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Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 1 - 5 


299 


Surah Al-Taubah 

(Repentance) 

Surah al-Taubah is Madam and it has one hundred and 
twenty nine verses and sixteen sections 

Verses 1-5 

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Surfer 

Here is a withdrawal (proclaimed) by Allah and His 
Messenger against the Mushriks* with whom you have 
a treaty. [1] 

So, move in the land freely for four months, and be sure 


* Mushriks, anglicized plural of mushrik , stands for al-mushrikin - those who 
associate partners with Allah. 



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that you can never defeat Allah and that Allah is about 
to disgrace the disbelievers. [ 2 ] 

And here is an announcement, from Allah and His Mes¬ 
senger to the people on the day of the greater Hajj, that 
Allah is free from (any commitment to) the Mushriks, 
and so is His Messenger. Now, if your repent, it is good 
for you. And if you turn away, then be sure that you 
can never defeat Allah. And give those who disbelieve 
the ‘good* news of a painful punishment. [ 3 ] Except 
those of the Mushriks with whom you have a treaty, 
and they abated nothing of your rights and backed no 
one against you, so then, fulfill the treaty with them up 
to their term. Surely, Allah loves the God-fearing. [ 4 ] 

So, when the sacred months expire, kill the Mushriks 
wherever you find them. And catch them and besiege 
them and sit in ambush for them everywhere. Then, if 
they repent and establish §alah and pay Zakah, leave 
their way. Surely, Allah is most Forgiving, Very Merci¬ 
ful. [ 5 ] 

Commentary 

Now begins Surah Al-Bara’ah which is also called Surah Al-Taubah 
(as written; also Surah At-Taubah as pronounced). It is called Bara’ah 
for the reason that it mentions baraah or disengagement with the con¬ 
sequences of what the kuffar (disbelievers) do. Then, it is also called 
Taubah because it announces that the repentance of Muslims has been 
accepted, (Mazharl). It is a feature of this Surah that ‘ bismillah 9 

Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim: With the name of Allah, the 
[All-] Merciful, the Very Merciful) is not written in the copies of the 
Qur’an when the Surah begins. However, Bismillah is written at the 
head of all Surahs of the Qur’an - the sole exception being that of Su¬ 
rah Al-Taubah. Before we find out the relevant reason, let us bear in 
mind that the Holy Qur’an was revealed bit by bit during the period of 
twenty three years. The verses of a Surah were revealed at different 
times. When Sayyidna Jibra’il would come with a revelation, he would 
also point out to the Divinely intended arrangement of each revealed 
verse, explaining that it should be placed in such and such Surah after 
such and such ’Ayah (verse). It was in accordance with this Divinely 
intended arrangement that the Holy Prophet |g; would have scribes of 
the revelation write them up. 




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And when, at the end of a Surah, the next was to begin, 
‘Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim’ would be revealed before the next actu¬ 
ally did - which made it easy to understand that the previous Surah 
had concluded and another Surah was beginning. All Surahs of the 
Holy Qur’an were revealed in that manner. Surah Al-Taubah is, in 
terms of the order of revelation, among one of the very last Surahs. 
When it began, neither was Bismillah revealed as customary, nor did 
the Holy Prophet instruct the scribe of the revelation to do that. So, 
this was how things stood when the Holy Prophet ,JLj *Ju. Jji passed 
away. 

When Sayyidna ‘Uthman al-Ghani a^c a1)I ^j arranged the Holy 
Qur’an in the form of a book during the period of his Caliphate, Bismil¬ 
lah was not there at the beginning of Surah Al-Taubah, an arrange¬ 
ment contrary to that of the rest of Surahs. Therefore, a doubt rose - 
perhaps, this is not an independent Surah, or may as well be a part of 
some other Surah. Now, they thought, if this happens to be a part of 
some other Surah, which Surah is that? In terms of its subjects, Surah 
Al-Anfal seemed to fit the slot. 

Also, as narrated by Sayyidna ‘Uthman -Jjl ^ elsewhere, ‘during 
the blessed period of the Holy Prophet a_Jl& aJ)I JL=>, both these Surahs 
were called: ( qarinatayn : the two connected ones)’. (Mazhari). 

Therefore, it was placed after Surah Al-Anfal. This precaution was 
taken for the reason that, should it be a part of another Surah, it must 
stay with it. But, it was also probable that it may be a separate and in¬ 
dependent Surah. Therefore, when writing, a particular format was 
adopted whereby some space was left open at the end of Surah Al- 
Anfal and before the beginning of Surah Al-Taubah - similar to the 
spot meant for writing Bismillah at the head of other Surahs. 

The precise reason why Bismillah was not written at the beginning 
of Surah Al-Bara’ah or Al-Taubah has been reported from the great 
compiler of the revealed text of the Qur’an, Saiyyidna ‘Uthman JUl 
himself. At that time, he was answering a question posed by Sayyid¬ 
na ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, the Sahabi and Mufassir (exegete) of the 
Qur’an, which appears in Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, the Musnad of Ahmad 
and Tirmidhi. In that question, Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas had also asked 
Sayyidna ‘Uthman about the order in which the Surahs of.the Qur’an 
have been arranged. Giving an example, he pointed out that placed 



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first were the larger Surahs that have more than hundred verses. 
Technically, they are called (rni’in : hundreds). After that, there are 
the large Surahs that have less than hundred verses. They are called 

(mathani: the oft-repeated ones). Placed thereafter were smaller 
Surahs that are called ( mufassalat: the Surahs starting from 

"Qaf' [ 50 ] to the end of the Qur’an [ 114 ]). The order of this very arrange¬ 
ment necessitated that Surah Al-Taubah should be placed before Su¬ 
rah Al-Anfal - because the verses carried by Surah Al-Taubah are 
more than one hundred while those of Surah Al-Anfal are less than one 
hundred. The first seven long Surahs called Jl> (sab‘ tiwal : the seven 

long ones) also show that the placement of Surah Al-Taubah before Su¬ 
rah Al-Anfal is naturally more appropriate there too. After having 
stated the existing position, Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas Jjl asked about 
the consideration that had led to a contrary arrangement. Sayyidna 
‘Uthman ^ *1)1 said: ‘Correct. But, the Qur’an was serious matter. 
Precaution demanded that we do what we did - because, in case Surah 
Al-Taubah is not taken as an independent Surah, instead, is taken as 
a part of Surah Al-Anfal, it will be obvious that the verses of Surah Al- 
Anfal have been revealed earlier and those of Surah Al-Taubah after 
that. Given this situation, it is not permissible to give precedence to 
the verses of the latter over the verses of Surah Al-Anfal without the 
sanction of Wahy (revelation). And since we did not find any such in¬ 
struction in the Wahy, therefore, Surah Al-Anfal was made to precede 
and Surah Al-Taubah, to succeed.’ 

From these precise details we learn that the reason for not writing 
Bismillah at the beginning of Surah Al-Taubah lies in the probability 
that Surah Al-Taubah may not be an independent Surah, instead, be a 
part of Surah Al-Anfal. Given this probability, writing Bismillah at 
this place shall be as incorrect as someone were to write Bismillah in 
the middle of any Surah of the Qur’an. 

On this basis, Muslim jurists have said that a person who has al¬ 
ready been reciting Surah Al-Anfal from above and is going to begin 
Surah Al-Taubah, then, he or she should not recite Bismillah. But, a 
person who is starting his or her til aw ah (recitation of the Qur’an) 
from the beginning, or from somewhere in the middle, of this very Su¬ 
rah should say: ^)\ *1)1 (Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim ) and then 

begin his or her recitation. Some people who do not know rules think 



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that the recitation of Bismillah while reciting Surah Al-Taubah is not 
permissible under any condition. This is a mistaken notion. Then, they 
would make another mistake on top of that. Instead of reciting Bismil- 
lah, they would recite: jtJI *JJL ij£l (I seek the protection of Allah from 
the Fire) when initiating or beginning from it. For this, there is no 
proof from the Holy Prophet ,JLj *1)1 and his Companions. 

Then, there is the statement of Sayyidna ‘Ali *ic Jill reported in a 

narrative from Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas *1)1 < _ r ^j. It says, ‘the reason for 

not writing Bismillah at the beginning of Surah Bara’ah (Al-Taubah) is 
that *1)1 fJu ( Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim ) is an assurance of 

protection, but in Surah Al-Bara’ah, this assurance of protection and 
the pledge of peace given to disbelievers has been terminated.’ This 
statement should be taken as a refinement of approach that does not 
go against the real cause. And the real cause is nothing but that Bis¬ 
millah was not written on the basis of the probability that Surah Al- 
Anfal and Surah Al-Taubah may be one. Then, there could be yet an¬ 
other subtle point about why it was not written. This Surah proclaims 
freedom from any responsibility for the disbelievers and announces the 
withdrawal of peace and protection from those people - which is not fit 
for Bismillah. Therefore, in terms of the design of creation, particular 
causes were generated here so that Bismillah was not to be written at 
this place. 

To understand the present verses of Surah Al-Taubah fully, it is 
necessary to know some events that became the cause of the revelation 
of these verses. Therefore, given here first are consolidated details of 
the relevant events: 

1. As a whole, Surah Al-Taubah carries the description of some bat¬ 
tles, events related to them, and many injunctions and rulings emerg¬ 
ing therefrom - for example, the termination of pacts with all tribes of 
Arabia, the Conquest of Makkah, the battles of Hunain and Tabuk. 
Out of these events, first came the Conquest of Makkah in Hijrah year 
8, then came the battle of Hunain in the same year, then the battle of 
Tabuk in Rajab of Hijrah year 9. Finally came the announcement ter¬ 
minating pacts with all tribes of Arabia in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, 
Hijrah year 9. 

2. A summary of subjects concerning the repudiation of treaties 
mentioned in these verses shows that it was in the Hijrah year 6 that 



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the Holy Prophet ,Jl.j JLll started with the intention of ‘Umrah 
but the Quraysh blocked their entry into Makkah. Then came the 
peace treaty between them at Hudaibiyah. The time frame of this trea¬ 
ty, as reported in Ruh al-Ma‘ani, was ten years. In Makkah, there were 
other tribes too, other than the Quraysh. An article was included in 
the peace treaty to cover them. It allowed a tribe, from out of the tribes 
other than the Quraysh, to become allies to the Quraysh and be with 
them, if they chose to do so; and whoever chose to become the ally of 
the Holy Prophet *J* *1)1 and be with him was allowed to do that. 
So, the tribe of Khuza‘ah chose to become an ally of the Holy Prophet 
(jL,j *.It *1)1 and went with him, while the tribe of Banu Bakr chose to 
go with the Quraysh. According to the treaty, it was necessary that 
within ten years there shall be no internecine war, nor shall any ag¬ 
gressor be helped from any side. And the tribe that was an ally of a 
party to the treaty shall be considered as governed by the same rule 
that governed the party. In other words, launching an attack on it or 
helping the aggressor was to be taken as a contravention of the treaty. 

This treaty was signed in the Hijrah year 6. In Hijrah year 7, ac¬ 
cording to this treaty, the Holy Prophet *Jlc *1)1 and his Compan¬ 
ions left for Makkah to perform the ‘Umrah they had missed earlier 
0 Umrah al-qada’). After staying there for three days, he returned as 
stipulated in the treaty. Until then, no party had acted against the 
peace treaty in any way. 

After that, it was within a period of five or six months when the 
tribe of Banu Bakr mounted a nightly ambush against the tribe of 
Banu Khuza‘ah. Thinking that the Holy Prophet jLy *_Lc *1)1 ls l* was far 
away and things were happening during the night which would make 
it difficult for the Holy Prophet JLy *J^ *1)1 to find out details of what 
had actually happened, the Quraysh too came to the assistance of 
Banau Bakr by providing weapons and men to them. 

Events as they transpired and conditions as they prevailed made 
the Quraysh too accept that the treaty of peace entered into at Hudai¬ 
biyah - requiring a ten-year moratorium on internecine wars - was 
broken. 

The tribe of Banu Khuza'ah, being an ally of the Holy Prophet JL*» 
,JL,j Jjl, informed him about this event. When he learnt about this 
breach of trust committed by the Quraysh, he started making secret 




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preparations for war against them. 

During their encounters at Badr, ’Uhud and Ahzab, the Quraysh 
had realized that some unseen Divine power was at work in favor of 
Muslims. They were no more intoxicated with their muscle and might. 
Now that they had broken their solemn pledge, the danger of a war 
likely to be initiated by Muslims had become all too obvious to them. 
The likelihood became much stronger after the report of their breach 
of trust reached the Holy Prophet pLj -dll Jl* and he chose to observe 
a total silence about the matter. Left with no choice, they asked Abu 
Sufyan to go to Madinah personally, assess the situation there and 
should he sense a war action being initiated by the Holy Prophet *L)l ^L» 
pJu-j iJu., he should offer his apologies on what had happened in the past 
and have the treaty renewed for the future. 

When Abu Sufyan reached Madinah, he did notice some indicators 
of war preparations being made by the Holy Prophet jJLj *Ac. JJI This 
increased his concerns. He went out to see prominent Sahabah of the 
Holy Prophet (JL,j Jjl ^ one by one so that they would recommend 
his case and help him have the treaty renewed. But, all of them re¬ 
fused to do so in view of their unpleasant past and present dealings. 
Consequently, Abu Sufyan returned empty-handed. The Quraysh of 
Makkah were hit by panic. 

At the other end, as reported in Bidayah and Ibn Kathir, it was on 
Ramadan 10, Hijrah year 8 when the Holy Prophet Jji Ju, 

marched out from Madinah with a large force of his noble Companions 
in order to attack Makkah. Ultimately, Makkah was conquered. 

Conquest of Makkah: Vanquished enemies were treated nobly 

At the time of the Conquest, there were many Quraysh chiefs who 
believed in the veracity of Islam earlier too, but they could not express 
themselves freely due to peer pressure in the society. Now that they 
had their opportunity, they embraced Islam. As for those who chose to 
stick to their time-worn creed of disbelief even at that hour, they too - 
with the exception of some individuals - were granted amnesty by the 
Holy Prophet . This was an unusual demonstration of morals, pro¬ 
phetic and miraculous, something others could not even dream of. He 
ignored all their hostilities and injustices in the past and simply said: 
‘Today, I say to you exactly what was said by Yusuf ^U-Jl *Ji£ to his 
brothers at the time when they had reached him in Egypt with their 




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parents: tpi •sjJS (This day, there is no blame on you).’ It means 
that, for him, taking a revenge for the past injustices inflicted by them 
or seeking to punish them in some way was unimaginable, in fact, he 
did not consider it appropriate even to blame them for anything that 
happened in the past. 

Rules for four kinds of Mushriks at the time of the Conquest of 
Makkah 

So then, Makkah came under the control of Muslims. Non-Muslims 
living in and around Makkah were given full protection of their lives 
and properties. But, that was a time when the existing status of these 
non-Muslims was different. One kind of people among them was of 
those who were a party to the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah which they 
themselves broke and which by itself became the cause of the Con¬ 
quest of Makkah. Then, there was another set of people with whom a 
peace treaty was signed for a specified period of time and they contin¬ 
ued abiding by this treaty, such as the two tribes of Banu Kinlnah 
called Banu Damurah and Banu Mudlaj. The peace treaty with them 
was for a specified period of time and, at the time of the revelation of 
Surah Al-Bara’ah (Al-Taubah) as stated by Khazin, they had another 
nine months left for their period of treaty to expire. 

Thirdly, there were people with whom a peace treaty was conclud¬ 
ed without any set time limit. Fourthly, there were those with whom 
no treaty existed. 

The unsavory experience of all treaties entered into by the Holy 
Prophet «lJLc *1ji with disbelievers or the People of the Book (Jews 
and Christians) was that they flouted these openly and secretly always 
conspiring with enemies to hurt him and his Muslim adherents as 
much as they could. Therefore, led by his own long experience and Di¬ 
vinely inspired indicators, the Holy Prophet *iJi had made up 

his mind not to enter into any peace treaty with any of these people 
and that the Arabian Peninsula was to be particularized with Muslims 
only as a bastion of Islam. This required a proclamation soon after the 
takeover of Makkah and the Arabian Peninsula ordering non-Muslims 
to leave and go somewhere else. But, in view of Islam’s principle of jus¬ 
tice, equity and humane dealing as well as under the universal mercy 
of the Holy Prophet himself, doing something like that 

without allowing a suitable time limit was not considered appropriate. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 1 - 5 


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Therefore, at the beginning of Surah Al-Bara’ah (Al-Taubah), separate 
injunctions were revealed that covered the four kinds of non-Muslim 
groups. 


The first such group was that of the Quraysh of Makkah who had 
themselves broken the treaty of Hudaibiyah. Now, they deserved no 
extra respite. But, since this was the period of ‘sacred months’ during 
which fighting and killing was forbidden by Allah, therefore, the in¬ 
junction which covers them appears in the fifth verse of Surah Al- 
Taubah, that is, IjJLJli jT$-l %Zh\ ^LZjI isu (So, when the sa¬ 

cred months expire, kill the Mushriks wherever you find them. And 
catch them and besiege them and sit in ambush for them everywhere. 
Then, if they repent and establish sal ah and pay zakah, leave their 
way. Surely, Allah is most Forgiving, Very Merciful - 9:5). It means 
that they had, though, forfeited all their rights by breaking the treaty 
obligations, but observing the sanctity of the ‘sacred months’ was after 
all necessary, therefore, they should either leave the Arabian Peninsu¬ 
la soon after the ‘sacred months’ expire, or embrace Islam, or be pre¬ 
pared to face war. 


Then, there was the second group with whom a peace treaty was 
made for a specified period of time and they had abided by it. The in¬ 
junction about them was given in the fourth verse of Surah Al-Taubah: 



Except those of the Mushriks with whom you have a treaty, 
and they have abated nothing of your rights and backed no 
one against you, so then, fulfill the treaty with them up to 
their term. Surely, Allah loves the God-fearing - (9:4). 


This injunction pertained to Banu Damurah and Banu Mudlaj as a re¬ 
sult of which they were allowed a respite of nine months. 


As for the third and the fourth group, only one injunction was re¬ 
vealed to cover both. It has been mentioned in the first and the second 
verse of Surah Al-Taubah as follows: 

4>i Z£ % 

Here is a withdrawal [proclaimed] by Allah and His Messen- 




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308 


ger against those of the Mushriks with whom you have a trea¬ 
ty. So, move in the land freely for four months, and be sure 
that you can never defeat Allah and that Allah is about to dis¬ 
grace the disbelievers - (9:1,2). 

Thus, according to the first two verses, all those who were covered 
by some treaty without a fixed time limit, or those with whom there 
was no treaty, were allowed a respite of four months. 

And according to the fourth verse, those who had a treaty for a 
specified period of time received a respite until it expired and, accord¬ 
ing to the fifth verse, the Mushriks of Makkah got their respite until 
the ‘sacred months’ expired. 

The generosity of giving respite to disbelievers even after trea¬ 
ties with them had expired 

It was stipulated that these injunctions shall come into force and 
the period of respite shall start from the time the relevant information 
has been promulgated throughout the Arabian Peninsula. According to 
the arrangement made for this purpose, the public proclamation was 
to be made in the great gathering of the Hajj of the Hijrah year 9 at 
Mina and ‘Arafat. This finds mention in the third and fourth verses of 
Surah Al-Taubah as follows: 



And here is an announcement, from Allah and His Messenger 
to the people on the day of the greater Hajj, that Allah is free 
from [any commitment to] the Mushriks, and so is His Mes¬ 
senger. Now, if you repent, it is good for you. And if you turn 
away, then be sure that you can never defeat Allah. And give 
those who disbelieve the ‘good’ news of a painful punishment - 
(9:3,4). 

When abrogating a treaty with disbelievers, taking any action 
against them without prior public announcement is not 
correct 

So, in order to implement this Divine injunction, the Holy Prophet 
(JUj aJLc *1)1 sent Sayyidna Abu Bakr and Sayyidna ‘All *lll ^ to 
the Hajj of the Hijrah year 9 at Makkah al-Mukarramah and had 




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them make this proclamation before a gathering of all tribes of Arabia 
on the plains of ‘Arafat and Mina. It was all too obvious that this in¬ 
junction would become widely known through the medium of that 
great gathering all over Arabia. However, as a matter of added precau¬ 
tion, he had this proclamation particularly made in distant Yemen 
through Sayyidna ‘Ali *1)1 

After this public proclamation, the situation was that the first 
group, that is, the disbelievers of Makkah had to leave the limits of the 
state by the end of the ‘sacred months,’ that is, the end of the month of 
Muharram of the Hijrah year 10. Similarly, the deadline for the second 
group was Ramadan of the Hijrah year 10; and that of the third and 
fourth groups was the tenth of Rabi’ ath-Thani of the Hijrah year 10. 
Any contravention of this executive order would have rendered the of¬ 
fender liable to face an armed confrontation. Under this arrangement, 
by the time of Hajj next year, no disbeliever was to remain within state 
limits. This will appear in verse 28 of Surah Al-Taubah where it has 
been said: lii^l 1 Uupp.\ (so, let them not come near Al- 

masjid-al-haram after this year of theirs). And the saying of the Holy 
Prophet *JLc *1)1 Jl* in Hadith: a )^ r L*)l j u* ^ (The disbelievers shall 
not perform Hajj after this year) means precisely this. 

Up to this point, given here was an explanation of the first verses 
of Surah Al-Taubah in the light of corresponding events. Now, some 
relevant point that emerge from these verses are being discussed be¬ 
low. 

What do these five verses teach? 

1. First of all, soon after the Conquest of Makkah, the general am¬ 
nesty granted by the Holy Prophet ,Jl.j *Jl* *1)1 to the Quraysh of 
Makkah, and to other enemy tribes, taught Muslims a practical lesson 
in high morals. The lesson was: if they overpower an enemy who 
stands helpless before them, they should not seek revenge from that 
enemy for his past hostilities. Rather than do something like that, 
they should actually demonstrate the best of Islamic morals by being 
generous and forgiving to their enemies. Though, acting in this man¬ 
ner may require a certain trampling over their natural feelings, still 
such a conduct is full of great advantages. 

(A) To begin with, it can be said that revenge does help one take 
out anger, at least temporarily - which may even give one a sense of 




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personal relief - yet, this sense of relief or comfort is transitory. Then, 
as compared with it, the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala and the high ranks of 
Paradise one is going to get are far more and are for ever in all re¬ 
spects. Consequently, reason demands that one should prefer what is 
everlasting to what is temporary. 

(B) Then, there is this act of suppressing one’s angry emotions af¬ 
ter having overpowered the enemy. This clearly proves that the battle 
fought by these people had no selfish motive behind it. The only mo¬ 
tive they had was fighting in the way of Allah - and this great objec¬ 
tive is what draws the decisive line between the Jihad of Islam and the 
wars of common kings and rulers of the world, and what also lays bare 
the difference in Jihad and rotten aggression. Thus, the truth is that a 
war waged for Allah to implement His injunctions shall be what Jihad 
is, otherwise it shall remain a high-handed exercise in disorder. 

(C) The third benefit yielded by this conduct comes naturally. 
When the overpowered enemy observes the high morals of the victors, 
he is likely to be drawn towards Islam and Muslims, something which 
is bound to lead him on to the path of his own success in life - and this 
is the real objective of Jihad. 

Forgiving disbelievers never means lack of vigilance against 
any impending harm from them 

2. The second ruling which has been deduced from these verses is 
that forgiveness and generosity do not mean that one should become 
negligent about self-protection against the evil designs of enemies by 
giving them free rein to go ahead and keep causing loss and injury to 
their forgivers. No doubt, forgiveness and generosity are in order, but 
along with these, commonsense demands that one should take lesson 
from past experience and restructure the pattern of life ahead by 
blocking all holes and crevices through which one could come within 
the range of enemy hostility. The Holy Prophet JL, a_Lc Jjl ju? said: c-jULV 
ja j»Ij .^11 (One is not bitten twice from the same hole) meaning 

that a person does not put his hand twice in the same hole from which 
a poisonous reptile had bitten him. 

The Qur’anic proclamation of the withdrawal of Hijrah year 9 and 
the ensuing instructions given to the Mushriks that they should va¬ 
cate the environs of the Sacred Mosque peacefully within the period of 
respite allowed are proofs of this wise strategy. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 1 - 5 


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3. The initial verses of Surah Al-Taubah also tell us that forcing 
weak people to leave a place without reasonable notice of evacuation, 
or attacking them without warning is cowardly, and very ignoble in¬ 
deed. Whenever such an action has to be taken, it is necessary to make 
a public announcement first so that the affected people, who do not ac¬ 
cept the law of the land, may get the time to go wherever they wished, 
freely and conveniently. This becomes clear through the general proc¬ 
lamation of the Hijrah year 9 as mentioned in the cited verses and as 
demonstrated by the legal respite granted to all affected groups. 

4. The fourth ruling emerging from the cited verses tells us that, in 
case there is the need to annul a treaty of peace already made - which 
is permitted subject to some conditions - it is far better to allow the 
treaty to remain valid until it expires automatically. This has been 
commanded in the fourth verse of Surah Al-Taubah where Muslims 
were required to fulfill their treaty obligations to the tribes of Banu 
Damurah and Banu Mudlaj for the remaining nine months. 

5. The fifth ruling from the cited verses tells us about the standard 
Muslim attitude towards the enemies of Islam. When confronted with 
enemies, Muslims should always keep in mind that they are no enemy 
to them personally. The truth of the matter is that they are opposed to 
their disbelief, which is actually the cause of their own loss in the 
present world as well as in the Hereafter. As for the opposition of Mus¬ 
lims to them, that too is really based on good wishes for them. There¬ 
fore, Muslims should never abandon the opportunity to give good coun¬ 
sel to them, whether in war or peace. This theme appears in these 
verses repeatedly. It promises real prosperity for them in this world 
and in the world to come, only if they were to rescind their thinking. 
The text does not leave it at that. It also warns them of the conse¬ 
quences: if they refused to repent and correct, they would not only be 
destroyed and killed in the present world but, they would also not es¬ 
cape their punishment even after death. It is interesting that, along 
with the proclamation of withdrawal in these verses, the strain of sym¬ 
pathetic insistence also continues. 

6. The sixth ruling comes out from the fourth verse where Muslims 

have been prompted to fulfill their pledge right through the end until 
the term of the peace treaty expired. Immediately thereafter, the verse 
has been concluded with the sentence: jiMI 3[,(Surely, Allah loves 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9:1-5 


312 


the God-fearing). This gives a clear hint to the advice that Muslims 
should observe utmost precaution in fulfilling the pledge they have 
given. They should never look for lame excuses and far-fetched inter¬ 
pretations only to find a way to contravene treaty obligations, as done 
by nations at large. 

7. Details as they appear in the fifth verse carry the seventh rul¬ 
ing. When war in defense of a correct objective breaks out against any 
power, all available combat resources should be used fully and conclu¬ 
sively. That is a time when showing mercy and appeasement would be 
showing cowardice. 

From the same fifth verse comes the eighth ruling, that is, trust in 
a non-Muslim who has become a Muslim depends on three things. (A) 
Taubah (repentance) over disbelief in the past, (B) the establishing of 
Salah and (C) the paying of Zakah as due. Until these three conditions 
have been implemented practically, the option of war will not be with¬ 
drawn simply on the basis that someone has recited the Kalimah of Is¬ 
lam. When after the passing away of the Holy Prophet JL»j <ul* *1)1 
some people refused to pay Zakah, Sayyidna Abu Bakr as. *1)1 had de¬ 
clared a Jihad against them. On that occasion, by referring to this very 
verse in support of his action, he was able to convince and satisfy all 
Companions. 

8. The ninth question in these verses concerns the meaning of the 

expression: iyaumu ’l-hajju ’l-akbar : The day of the great 

hajj). The sayings of early commentators differ in this matter. Sayyid¬ 
na ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Sayyidna ‘Umar, Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn 
‘Umar, and Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn Zubayr ^ *1)1 ^ say that ‘the 
day of the greater hajj’ means ‘the day of ‘Arafah’ because the Holy 
Prophet fJu-j *1)1 has said: *j^. gJ.1 (‘Arafah is the Hajj). (Abu Dawud, 
Tirmidhi) 

9. Some others have said that it signifies: ^ Jl iyaumu ’n-nahr : the 
day of sacrifice), that is, the tenth of Dhu al-hijjah. In order to accom¬ 
modate all these sayings, Sufyan ath-Thawri and other authorities 
have said that all five days of the Hajj are the substantiation of: gJ-l 

iyaumu -’l-hajju ’l-akbar : the day of the greater hajj ) which in¬ 
cludes ‘Arafah and Yaumu ’n-nahr both. As for the use of the word 
yaum or day in the singular, it is in accordance with the usage else¬ 
where - as the Holy Qur’an calls a few days of the battle of Badr by 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9:6-11 


313 


the name of fJi yaumu ’l-Furqan in the singular form. Then, there 
are the common wars of Arabia. They too are identified by the word 
yaum or day - even though, they may have been spread over many 
more days - such as, :yaumu ’1-bu‘ath, a>y/^ :yaumu I’Uhud etc. 

And since ‘Umrah is called ‘the smaller hajj, (>^>l g>), therefore, it was 
to make it distinct that Hajj was called ‘the greater hajj’ ( al-hajju 7- 
akbar). This tells us that, in the terminology of the Qur’an, Hajj as it 
takes place every year is nothing but ‘the greater hajj’ ( al-hajju 7- 
akbar). As for the popular assumption that the year in which ‘Arafah 
falls on a Friday is specially ‘the greater hajj,’ it has no real basis ex¬ 
cept that the year in which the Holy Prophet jJL-j **Lc <1)1 ju> performed 
his last Hajj : hajjatu ’l-wadaj just happened to be the year in 

which ‘Arafah fell on the day of Jumu'ah. No doubt, this is a matter of 
distinction in its own place, but it has nothing to do with the sense of 
this verse. 


In his Ahkam al-Qur’an, Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas has said: By 
calling the days of Hajj as ‘the greater hajj,’ the problem that ‘Umrah 
cannot be performed during the days of Hajj has also been resolved 
here - because, the Holy Qur’an has specified these days for ‘the great¬ 
er hajj.’ 

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Surah Al-Taubah : 9:6-11 


314 



And if any one of the Mushriks seeks your protection, 
give him protection until he listens to the Word of Al¬ 
lah, then let him reach his place of safety. That is be¬ 
cause they are a people who do not know. [6] 

How can the Mushriks have a treaty with Allah and His 
Messenger? Except those with whom you made a treaty 
near Al-masjid-al-haram. Then, as long as they remain 
straight with you, remain straight with them. Surely, 

Allah loves the God-fearing. [7] 

How (can they have a treaty) while if they overcome 
you, they shall not observe any bond or treaty in your 
case. They want to please you with (words from) their 
mouths, but their hearts refuse. Most of them are sin¬ 
ners. [8] 

They have taken a paltry price for the verses of Allah, 
so they have prevented (people) from His path. Indeed, 
evil is what they have been doing. [9] 

They do not observe, in the case of a believer, any bond 
or treaty. And they are the transgressors. [10] 

Then, if they repent and establish §alah and pay Zakah, 
they are your brothers in faith. And We elaborate the 
verses for people who understand. [11] 

Commentary 

It was said in the first five verses of Surah Al-Taubah that, soon af¬ 
ter the Conquest of Makkah, general amnesty was granted to all poly¬ 
theists and disbelievers of Makkah and its environs. But, in view of 
their dismal record of treachery and breach of trust in the past, it was 
decided that no treaty would be signed with them in the future. It was 
despite this policy decision that injunctions to honor the treaty - made 
with these people earlier and which they had never contravened — 
were revealed whereby they were required to fulfill the terms of the 
treaty until it expired. As for those with whom there was just no trea¬ 
ty, or there was no treaty with a fixed duration, they too were granted 
suitable concession. Rather than they be ordered to leave Makkah im¬ 
mediately, they were allowed a respite of four months so that, during 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9:6-11 


315 


this period of time, they could arrange to leave Makkah and go 
wherever they deemed fit, with convenience and in peace. Or, if the 
truth of Islam had become apparent to them in the meantime, they 
were welcome to become Muslims. The outcome of these injunctions 
was that the sacred site of Makkah was to be vacated by all treacher¬ 
ous disbelievers. The evacuation was being implemented without any 
intention to retaliate. In fact, it was enforced in self-defense because of 
consistent experience. Therefore, the door to a good future for them 
was left open even then. This has been mentioned in the sixth verse 
the substance of which is: If someone from among the disbelievers 
seeks asylum with you, then, you should grant it so that he could come 
close to you and listen to the Word of Allah and understand the veraci¬ 
ty of Islam. Then, your responsibility does not end at granting him a 
temporary asylum. The truth of the matter is that, as soon as he has 
done what he had come for, it is the responsibility of Muslims that 
they should escort him under full protective arrangements to the place 
where he considers himself safe and happy. At the end of the verse, it 
was said that the particular injunction has been sent because these 
people are not sufficiently aware. By coming close, they could know 
things better. 

Some rulings and points of guidance come out from this verse (11) 
as well. These have been discussed in details by Imam Abu Bakr al- 
Jassas. In brief, they are: 

Proving the Veracity of Islam is the Duty of Muslim Scholars 

1. First of all, this verse confirms that, in case, a disbeliever asks 
Muslims to explain the veracity of Islam to him with valid proofs, 
then, it becomes their duty to accede to his demand. 

2. Secondly, it is obligatory on Muslims that they should allow and 
protect anyone who comes to them to learn more about Islam. Causing 
any hurt or harm to such a person is not permissible. This injunction, 
according to Tafsir al-Qurtubi, is operative only in a situation when the 
purpose of the visitor is to listen to the Word of Allah and know more 
about Islam. In case, the objective of the visitor is business, or some 
other pursuit, it would depend on the discretion of relevant Muslim of¬ 
ficials who would decide in terms of what is best in Muslim interests. 
Should they deem it fit, they may permit and should they think other¬ 
wise, they can act at their discretion. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 6 -11 


316 


Non-Resident Non-Muslims should not be permitted to stay in 
Dar al-Islam any longer than necessary 

3. The third ruling stipulates that a non-Muslim at war, with 

whom Muslims have no treaty, should not be allowed to stay any long¬ 
er than necessary - because, in the cited verse, a limit of stay and pro¬ 
tection has been set by saying: *1)1 JJ- (until he listens to the 

Word of Allah). 

4. According to the fourth element of guidance embedded here, it is 
the duty of a Muslim ruling authority to remain aware of the progress 
of the mission undertaken by any non-Muslim at war once he has en¬ 
tered into the Muslim country with valid permission (visa) and pur¬ 
pose. And, as soon as he has completed his job in the country, it is also 
the duty of Muslim Amir (ruler) that he should arrange for his safe re¬ 
turn. 

Stated in the next four verses (7-10) is the wisdom behind the proc¬ 
lamation of withdrawal mentioned in the initial verses of Surah Al- 
Taubah. Here, by referring to the inherent meanness of pledge¬ 
breaking disbelievers whose malice and hostility against Muslims 
knew no bounds, it was advised in verses 7 and 8 that entertaining any 
hope from such people that they would ever abide by their pledge was 
simply wrong to begin with. It was said in the text: Except for some 
people with whom Muslims had entered into a treaty near the masjid 
al-haram, how could any pledge given by these disbelievers be credible 
before Allah and His Messenger? The fact was that they were a set of 
people who, if given the least opportunity, would not blink about any 
relationship they had with them or bother to honor the word of prom¬ 
ise given by them. The simple reason was that these people had no in¬ 
tention of honoring the treaty even when they were signing it. Their 
sole purpose was just to placate them. With their hearts set elsewhere, 
most of them were sinners, compulsive breakers of pledges and practi¬ 
tioners of treachery. 

Uphold truth and commit no excess or injustice even against 
disbelievers is the teaching of Qur’an 

This statement of the Qur’an provides guidance for Muslims that 
they should never surrender truth and justice even when they are 
dealing with confronting enemies. Whenever they have to take up an 



Surah Al-Taubah: 9:6-11 


317 


issue with them, they are required not to slip into taking exaggerated 
approaches and stances against them. This is as it has been demon¬ 
strated in these verses where full consideration has been given to the 
case of the disbelievers of Makkah. The fact was that most of them had 
broken their pledge. Naturally, when something like this happens in 
that setting, people tend to make a sweeping allegation against every- 
one. But, the Holy Qur’an, by saying: f \p .I ^4* ZA& % (except 

those with whom you made a treaty near al-masjid-al-haram ), has ex¬ 
empted those who had not broken their pledge. In fact, it has ordered 
that Muslims should stay firm on their commitment as long as the oth¬ 
ers remain committed and faithful to their pledge. The breach of trust 
committed by other people should in no case influence their stance 
whereby they themselves may be led to become breakers of the pledge 
given to them. 

Earlier when it was said that disbelieving people had nursed be¬ 
trayal in their hearts right from the beginning and had no intention of 
staying faithful to their pledge, an exception was also granted. Simi¬ 
larly, when the text says: ojLi (Most of them are sinners - 8), it 
hints that all of them were not like that. There were some nice people 
among them too, who wanted to stand by their commitment, but they 
were not heard before others. 

This is the same subject the Holy Qur’an takes up elsewhere say¬ 
ing in very clear terms: l_p"Sf Jit ^ (and malice against a 

people should not bid you to not doing justice — 5:8) 

After that comes the ninth verse with the reason why these Mush- 
riks were so chronically treacherous and what was it that ailed them. 
Thus, they too were given a prescription of hope to ponder about so 
that they could still correct themselves if they chose to. At the same 
time, Muslims at large were also served with a warning that they 
should take their guard against the pitfall of treachery and disobedi¬ 
ence which had sucked these people in and make a total abstention 
from this behavior model their distinct life style. The reason is their 
relentless love of the material. The desire to acquire, possess and ex¬ 
pend the limitless range of things of this world had blinded them to 
the limit that they would not hesitate to sell off the very Words of Al¬ 
lah and their own faith in exchange for paltry gains. This character is, 
to make an understatement, evil. 




Surah Al-Taubah: 9:6-11 


318 


Moving on to the tenth verse, the text describes the extreme crook¬ 
edness of these people by saying: lij V/ ^1 '£$0 (They do not ob¬ 
serve, in the case of a believer, any bond or treaty). The sense is that 
this was no isolated case of disbelieving people acting treacherously 
against Muslims to whom they were bound by ties of kinship and trea¬ 
ty obligations. In fact, disbelieving people were a lot who would never 
consider kinship or pledge as valid grounds when dealing with 
Muslims. 

Given the aforesaid behavior pattern of disbelieving people, it could 
have been but natural for Muslims to have become disillusioned with 
them forever and refuse to have any brotherly relationship with them 
under any condition. Therefore, as the Qur’anic justice and equity 
would have it, the eleventh verse gives the following instruction: Ijfil jU 
jilll ^ fk/ljC U ijfpl Ijslj iJLSJl ijufj (Then, if they repent and establish salah 
and pay zakah, they are your brothers in faith). 

Here we are being told that once an enemy - no matter how deadly 
and no matter how hurtful he has been - becomes a Muslim, things 
change dramatically. Allah Ta'ala forgives his past sins, all of them. 
So, it becomes obligatory on Muslims too that they should forget the 
past, start afresh, take them as their brothers in faith and do whatev¬ 
er it takes to fulfill the rights enjoined under such relationship. 

Three Conditions of Entry into the Islamic Brotherhood 

This verse makes it clear that there are three conditions of entry 
into the Islamic brotherhood: (1) Taubah or repentance from Kufr and 
Shirk, (2) establishment of Salah and (3) payment of Zakah - because, 
Iman (faith) and Taubah (repentance) are concealed matters. Common 
Muslims cannot find out their reality. Therefore, two of their outward 
signs were mentioned, that is, Salah and Zakah. 

Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas JJI said: ‘This verse has made 
the blood of Muslims, who qualify as ‘the people of Qiblah,’ unlawful 
( hararn ).’ In other words, people who establish Salah, pay Zakah and 
have said or done nothing against Islam as proved against them, shall 
be taken as Muslims in the matter of all religious injunctions - even 
though, they may not have true Tman (faith) in their hearts, or have 
hypocrisy ( nifaq ). 

This is the verse Sayyidna Abu Bakr *i* JL)l ^ had quoted in sup- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 12 - 16 


319 


port of his declaration of Jihad against those who had refused to pay 
Zakah after the passing away of the Holy Prophet JLy *Jl& Jji lJ L*. The 
noble Companions before whom he had made this assertion were satis¬ 
fied with his approach. (Ibn Kathir) 

At the end of verse 11, the text stresses upon the need to abide by 
given injunctions, regarding those covered under a treaty and those 
who have repented, by saying: I J^Ij'fAnd We elaborate the 

verses for people who understand). 


Verses 12 - 16 



And if they break their oaths after they have made a 
covenant and speak evil of your Faith, then fight the 
leaders of infidelity - in fact, they have no oaths - so 
that they may stop. [12] Would you not fight a people 
who broke their oaths and conspired to expel the Mes¬ 
senger and it was they who started (fighting) against 
you for the first time? Do you fear them? Then, Allah is 
worthier that you fear Him, if you are believers. [13] 

Fight them, so that Allah should punish them at your 
hands and disgrace them, and help you win against 
them and bring relief to bosoms of a believing people, 
[14] and remove the rage of their hearts. And Allah re¬ 
lents to whomsoever He wills. And Allah is (All-) Know- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 :12 -16 


320 


ing, (All-) Wise. [15] 

Do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has 
not yet seen those of you who struggle in jihad and nev¬ 
er take anyone, other than Allah and His Messenger 
and the believers, as their confidant? And Allah is (All-) 

Aware of what you do. [16] 

Commentary 

It will be recalled that a cease-fire agreement with the Quraysh of 
Makkah was concluded at Hudaibiyah in the Hijrah year 6. That the 
Quraysh will not stick to the agreement was foretold in verse 7 of Su¬ 
rah Al-Taubah: (how can the Mushriks have a trea¬ 

ty...). Then, came verses 8, 9 and 10 with the causes of their pledge 
breaking. And in the 11th verse it was announced that, despite having 
broken their solemn covenant, if these Mushriks become Muslims and 
start expressing their faith in Islam through prayers and fasting, then, 
Muslims are duty-bound to keep their present dealings with them free 
of any effects from the past. In fact, they should take them to be their 
brothers in faith and treat them as such. In verse 12 cited above, Mus¬ 
lims have been told about the course of action they should take in the 
event these people do break their pledge, as prophesied earlier. 

The actual words of the text read: ’pLA vJS&z f I jjSS 
ill ljL-Ui (And if they break their oaths after they have made a cove¬ 
nant and speak evil of your Faith, then fight the leaders of infidelity — 
12). It is worth noting that the present situation in the text demanded 
the use of jS{ faqatiluhum: then fight them). The Holy Qur’an has 
said: Jsj I ill tfcuiZ (then fight the leaders of infidelity) which bypasses 
the use of a shorter pronoun at this place. The word: ill ( a’immah : 
leaders) is the plural of Imam. The sense is that these people by break¬ 
ing their word of honor turned into leaders of infidelity and thus be¬ 
came deserving of a war against them. This statement also carries the 
wisdom and justification of the command to fight. Spme commentators 
say that ‘leaders of infidelity’ at this place refers to the chiefs of the 
tribe of Quraysh in Makkah who kept on instigating people against 
Muslims and remained busy making war preparations. Fighting 
against them was particularly mentioned because these people were 
the real source of power the Makkans were credited with. In addition 
to that, since they were the ones with whom Muslims had bonds of 
close kinship, there was the possible apprehension that some conces- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 12 -16 


321 


sion could be granted in their case. 

Honest critical study of Islam by Protected Non-Muslim 
Citizens of Dar al-Islam is possible - vilification is not 

Some commentators have interpreted the words: & ij££ (speak 

evil of your faith) to mean that speaking evil of the Faith of Muslims is 
included under contravention of pledge. A person who speaks evil of Is¬ 
lam and the SharPah of Islam cannot continue to be a party to the 
treaty with Muslims. But, according to a consensus of Muslim jurists, 
it means vilification that is done to insult and belittle Islam and 
Muslims, openly and publicly. Honest intellectual criticism while 
conducting research into problems and rulings remains exempt from 
its purview - then, it is not supposed to be vilification in its lexical 
sense. 

Therefore, for non-Muslim citizens of Dar al-Islam, any honest in¬ 
tellectual criticism can be allowed, but what cannot be allowed is vilifi¬ 
cation, contempt, insult or outrage against Islam. 

In the same verse (12), it was said: f jCL\ y j#l,(in fact, they have no 
oaths). The sense is that these are the kind of people none of whose 
oaths are trustworthy - because, they are addicted to breaking their 
oaths and committing breaches of trust. Then, the use of the plural 
form of oaths here could also mean: ‘when they broke their oath, they 
also absolved Muslims of any responsibility for their oath and pledge.’ 

At the end of verse 12, it was said: 5 ’J&.’fol (so that they may stop). 
This last sentence tells us that the objective of Jihad carried out by 
Muslims should never be the conquest of countries like common kings 
or to hurt the enemy and to take vengeance as belligerent people 
around the world would love to do. Instead of doing anything like that, 
when it comes to fighting that they must, the driving objective should 
be compassion for the enemy, the empathy and the desire that they 
would stop doing what was not right. 

After that, to persuade Muslims to fight, they were told in verse 13 
that there was no reason why they would not be ready to fight against 
the kind of people who had conspired to expel the Messenger of Allah. 
This refers to the Jews of Madinah who had hatched a plan to expel 
the Hply Prophet JLy Jjl from the city of Madinah. They had 
said: 'J&f \^L jSvl (the one having more honor and power will cer- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 12 - 16 


322 


tainly expel the one being humble and weak from there - 63:8). In their 
self-view, they were the people of honor and power while Muslims 
were weak and lowly. The answer they needed was given by Allah Al¬ 
mighty in His way. He took their proud statement as it was and made 
it come true in a manner that the Holy Prophet *JLc *1)1 and his 
Companions, by turning the Jews out of Madinah, proved that honor 
belonged to Muslims and disgrace to Jews. 

Giving the second reason for fighting against them, it was said: 

;(and it was they who started [fighting] against you for the 
first time). The sense is that they were the aggressors. What Muslims 
have to do now is simply to defend themselves, an action universally 
sane and normal. 


Then, to remove the awe of the enemy from the hearts of Muslims, 

(HP. 


it was said: fell 


(Do you fear them? Then, Allah is 


worthier that you fear Him) for there is no power that can cause His 
punishment to disappear. Finally, by saying: (if you are be¬ 

lievers), it was made clear that fearing anyone or anything other than 
Allah in a manner that obstructs the fulfillment of the injunctions of 
the Sharfah of Islam is not what a true believing-practicing Muslim 
would do. 


For Muslims, the same exhortation to fight in Jihad appears in 
verses 14 and 15 as well, though from a different angle. They were told: 

1. If you get ready to fight them, the help and support from Allah 
will be with you. As for their enemies, they have already become de¬ 
serving of Divine punishment because of their evil deeds but this pun¬ 
ishment will not come down upon them from the heavens or up from 

0 / JL ytf 

beneath the Earth. Instead of that, says the verse: pL^L^JJI^^that is, 
‘Allah shall punish them at their hands.’ 

2. As a result of this fighting, Allah Ta‘ala will mollify the hearts of 
Muslims after all those pains and sorrows continuously inflicted upon 
them by the disbelievers. 

3. Then, the anger which filled Muslim hearts because of their 
treachery and pledge breaking was to be removed by Allah Ta‘ala 
when He punishes them at their hands. 

In the previous verse (12), by saying: (so that they may 

stop), Muslims were told that they should not fight a people just to re- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 17 -18 


323 


lease their anger, rather make their correction and betterment the 
main purpose of their action. When they cleanse their intention from 
all irrelevant shades, and let it be for Allah alone, and fight for none 
but Allah, then, Allah Ta‘ala shall cause things to unfold in a manner 
that automatically removes the feelings of anger and sorrow raging in 
their hearts. 

4. Finally, it was said: /lif (And Allah relents to whom¬ 

soever He wills -15). This tells us that there will be an added gain as a 
result of this Jihad. There will be many from among the enemies who 
will have the taufiq of Islam. They will become Muslims. So, there were 
many arrogant ones at the time of the Conquest of Makkah who were 
put to disgrace while there were many others who embraced Islam. 

History proves that the circumstances and events predicted in 
these verses were witnessed one by one as pointed out by the Holy 
Qur’an. Therefore, these verses contain many miracles. 


Verses 17 -18 



It is not for the Mushriks to build up the mosques of Al¬ 
lah while they are witnesses of their own infidelity. 

Those are the ones whose deeds have gone waste. And 
in the Fire they shall remain for ever. [17] 

In fact, the mosques of Allah are built-up only by those 
who believe in Allah and the Last Day and those who 
establish sal ah and pay zakah and who fear none but Al¬ 
lah. So, it is in all likelihood that they are to be among 
those on the right path. [18] 

Commentary 

Mentioned in the previous verses was how crooked the Mushriks of 
Makkah were, how they broke their pledges and what they did to de- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 17 -18 


324 


fend their false ways in religion. With this in view, Muslims were also 
brought around to stand up against them. In the last previous verse 
(16), Muslims have been told that Jihad is a test for them. This test is 
necessary because it helps in marking out a sincere Muslim from 
hypocrites and the weak-in-faith. Says the verse: ‘Do you think that 
you will be left alone while Allah has not seen those of you who strug¬ 
gle in jihad and never take anyone, other than Allah and His Messen¬ 
ger and the believers, as their confidant?’ 

The address in this verse is also to those common people who were 
taken to be Muslims, though some of them were hypocrites while some 
others were weak in faith and kept wavering. Such people would pass 
on sensitive information about Muslims to their non-Muslim friends. 
Therefore, two signs of a sincere Muslim were identified in this verse. 

Two signs of sincere Muslims 

(1) They fight disbelievers in the way of Allah. 

(2) They take no non-Muslim as their close friend to whom secrets 
are confided. 

At the end of the verse, it was said: l^Xilll/CAnd Allah is [All] 

Aware of what you do) that is, before Him nobody can get away with 
false excuses and alibis. 


This wisdom of Jihad mentioned earlier has appeared in another 
verse of the Holy Qur’an in the following words: 

"5 fSj (Do people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” 
and they will not be tried? - 29:2) 

On taking non-Muslims as close friends and insiders 

The word: i*J, ( walijah) used in verse 16 means an insider who 
shares secrets. There is another verse which uses the word: uik 
C bitanah ) to carry this very sense. Literally, 'bitanah’ means what is 
worn under normal clothing and is close to the body. It denotes a per¬ 
son who knows secrets as an insider. The actual words of the verse 
read: V jS L'lk i*Cf(0 those who believe, do not 

take anyone as insider but from your own selves for they would spare 
no effort to put you in trouble). (3:118) 

Now we can turn to the present verses (17 and 18) where instruc¬ 
tions have been given to cleanse al-masjid-al-haram and other masajid 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 17 - 18 


325 


(mosques) of false modes of worship and replacing them with what is 
correct and acceptable. 

A little background detail is in order at this point. When the Holy 
Prophet jXj uU .JL/IJL* got rid of all those idols the Mushriks used to 
worship from the Baytullah and the Sacred Mosque soon after the con¬ 
quest of Makkah, it was a matter of relief, at least externally, for the 
Sacred Mosque was now free from the physical vestiges of Shirk. But, 
the Holy Prophet ^ *JLe *1)1 had granted his old enemies pardon and 
protection soon after they were overpowered. They still used to do 
their ‘Ibadah and Tawaf in the Sacred Mosque following their false 
ways. 


That the Sacred Mosque was cleansed of idols was good, but it was 
also necessary to purify this sacred site from the fallout of idolatry and 
its false mores. The only way it could be done was to prohibit the entry 
of the Mushriks into the Sacred Mosque. But, this would have gone 
against the promise of protection given to them - and abiding by the 
terms of a treaty was far more important in Islam. Therefore, such or¬ 
ders were not given immediately. Instead, it was done in the year next 
to the conquest of Makkah. At that time, the Holy Prophet *Ju *1)1 Jl* 
(Jl-j had Sayyidna Abu Bakr and Sayyidna ‘Ali make an an¬ 

nouncement in the great gathering of Mina and ‘Arafat that, in the fu¬ 
ture, no ‘Ibadah, Hajj or Tawaf performed in the Mushrik way will be 
allowed in the Sacred Mosque. Also prohibited through this announce¬ 
ment was the evil custom of making Tawaf in the nude that had lin¬ 
gered from the days of Jahiliyah. It was in the gathering at Mina that 
Sayyidna ‘Ali *1)1 ^ } proclaimed: 










After this year, no Mushrik will perform Hajj and no naked 
person will make Tawaf of Baytullah. 


And this respite of one year was given for the reason that there 
were many people among them with whom Muslims had a treaty and 
they had continued to abide by the terms of the treaty. That they 
should be made to obey a new law before the expiry of the existing 
treaty with them was contrary to Islamic policy of tolerance. There¬ 
fore, a public announcement was made a year in advance to the effect 
that it has been decided to cleanse the Sacred Mosque from all Mush- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 17 -18 


326 


rik customs and ways of worship - because, their kind of worship 
would not let a mosque flourish, rather would go on to make it 
desolate. 

These Mushriks of Makkah equated their pagan customs with 
‘worship’ and thought that they were contributing towards the mainte¬ 
nance and functional thriving of the Sacred Mosque. They were proud 
of being the custodians of the Baytullah and the Sacred Mosque. 
Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas -llc JLll says, ‘when his father, before 
he became a Muslim, was taken prisoner at the battle of Badr, Mus¬ 
lims reproached him for staying on the side of Kufr and Shirk. He told 
them, ‘you only remember what is bad about us. You do not like to talk 
about our good things. Do you not know that we are the custodians of 
the Sacred Mosque? We take care of the building. We keep it filled 
with people. We manage it and we run a drinking water service for the 
pilgrims. Revealed thereupon were the verses: Jl)I 

(It is not for the Mushriks to build up the mosques of Allah). It means 
that Mushriks (those who ascribe partners to Allah) do not have the 
right to build and populate the mosques of Allah. The reason is that a 
masjid is a place that has been built to worship One God while Shirk 
and Kufr are its antithesis that cannot be combined with the structure 
and function of a masjid. 

The word: JjLt (‘ imarah : building) appearing in this verse is a multi¬ 
faceted word and is used to convey several meanings. It could mean 
the physical building of the masjid including all elements that go in 
raising and finishing it externally and internally. Then, it could also 
denote the maintenance of the masjid that would be inclusive of secur¬ 
ity arrangements, sanitation, upkeep and provision of necessary sup¬ 
plies. And then, it also includes the human dimension of the masjid 
t hat believers present themselves in the masjid for ‘Ibadah. (Since 
there is no exact equivalent in English to carry this sense, the nearest 
one could come would be to populate, people, fill up, make the masjid 
flourish in the number of those present and in the quality of acts of 
‘Ibadah they perform therein.) Incidentally, ‘Umrah (._^c) is called by 
that name in view of the fact that one visits Baytullah and makes the 
best of his presence there in terms of‘Ibadah. 

So, the sense of the Qur’anic word ‘ imarah ’ covers building, mainte¬ 
nance and presence. The Mushriks of Makkah took credit for all three. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 17 -18 


327 


They took special pride in considering themselves the custodians of the 
building of the Sacred Mosque. The present verses tell them that the 
Mushriks did not have any right to build the mosques of Allah while 
they were witnesses of their own infidelity. Because of their Kufr and 
Shirk, their deeds had gone waste and they were to live in the Fire of 
Jahannam eternally. 

The expression: ‘witnesses of their own infidelity’ could have two 
meanings. It could either mean that they were virtually confessing to 
their Kufr and Shirk because of what they were doing as Mushriks. 
Or, it could refer to their implied confession and witnessing of their 
Kufr and Shirk when they identify themselves in social situations. 
Customarily, when a Christian or Jew is asked as to his religious iden¬ 
tity, he would say that he was a Christian or Jew. The same would be 
the case with a fire-worshipper or idolater. They would identify them¬ 
selves with what they believe in. Thus, the Mushriks will become wit¬ 
nesses of their infidelity against themselves. (Ibn Kathir) 


Verse 17 was describing the negative aspect as related to the Mush¬ 
riks. It said that they did not deserve the honor of building and main¬ 
taining mosques. Verse 18 takes up the positive aspect relating to 
mosques by saying: 



In fact, the mosques of Allah are built-up only by those who 
believe in Allah and in the Last Day and those who establish 
Salah and pay Zakah and who fear none but Allah. So, it is in 
all likelihood that they are to be among those on the right 
path. 

It means the building of mosques in the real sense is a serene task. 
It can be done only by those who are bound by the commandments of 
Allah in their ‘Aqidah (faith) and ‘Amal (practice). They must believe 
in Allah and in the ’Akhirah, establish Salah, pay Zakah and fear none 
but Allah. At this place, only Tman (faith) in Allah and ’Akhirah (Last 
Day) have been mentioned. Faith in the Rasul (Messenger) of Allah 
was not mentioned expressly because there is no way one can have 
faith in Allah Ta‘ala except that one puts his or her faith in His Rasul 
- and wholeheartedly accepts the commandments that come from Al- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 17 -18 


328 


lah Ta‘ala through him. Therefore, ‘faith in the Rasul’ is naturally in¬ 
cluded under ‘faith in Allah.’ This is why the Holy Prophet *lll 
fJu, once asked his noble Companions, ‘Do you know what Tman in Al¬ 
lah is?’ The Companions said, ‘Allah and His Rasul know best.’ He 
said, Tman in Allah is that one bears witness to the fact that there is 
no one worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is the Rasul 
of Allah.’ This Hadith clearly states that having faith in the Rasul is in¬ 
cluded under having faith in Allah and is comprehensively united with 
it. (Mazhari with reference to al-Bukhari and Muslim) 

As for the statement: ‘fear none but Allah,’ it means that, in mat¬ 
ters of religion, one should not abandon the command of Allah out of 
some fear. Otherwise, fearing things that cause fear is quite natural. 
Beasts, snakes, thieves and robbers generate physical fear but that is 
not the kind of fear we are talking about here. When the magicians 
showed snakes made of ropes and staffs to Sayyidna Musa, *-±t he 
had a sense of fear within himself as mentioned in the Qur’an: 

* Jf. - 20:67. Therefore, the normal fear caused by what causes 
pain or brings loss is neither contrary to the injunction of the Qur’an 
nor to the station of a prophet, waliyy or saint. However, one should 
not become so overcome by this fear as to start creating confusion 
about the injunctions of Allah Ta‘ala or leaving them out altogether. 
This is not the style of a true believer and this is precisely what is 
meant at this place. 

Some related issues 

When it is said in the present verses that Mushriks and Kafirs can¬ 
not take up the task of ‘maintaining’ a masjid which was something 
only righteous Muslims could do, it refers to the trusteeship and ad¬ 
ministrative responsibility of the masajid. The outcome is that it is not 
permissible to appoint a Kafir the trustee and administrator of any Is¬ 
lamic Waqf (endowment). As for the construction of the different units 
of the structure such as walls and doors, it does not matter even if 
some non-Muslim is assigned to do the job. (Tafslr Marlghl) Similarly, 
when a non-Muslim makes a masjid as an act of thawab, or contributes 
funds for its building, then, it is permissible to accept it. However, the 
condition is that there should be no danger of a religious or worldly 
loss, or blame, or usurpation of the property later, or harping on the 
favor done. (AI-Durr al-Mukhtar, Shami and Maraghi) 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


329 


It was hinted in verse 18 that building a masjid and making it throb 
with multitudes of Muslims making prayers, remembering Allah and 
reciting the Qur’an is a task that can only be accomplished by a right¬ 
eous Muslim. It proves that anyone who keeps coming to the masjid ei¬ 
ther to supervise arrangements for the security, maintenance, upkeep 
and supplies for the masjid, or for the Dhikr of Allah, or to learn about 
his religion, or to recite or teach the Holy Qur’an is a perfect believer. 
These deeds are sufficient as witnesses to this honor. 


The Holy Prophet ^J—j *JU *1)1 said: ‘when you notice that a per¬ 
son is punctual with his presence in the masjid, bear witness to his 
Tman - because, Allah Ta‘ala has said: *1)L *L)l til,(In fact, 

the masajid of Allah are built-up only by those who believe in Allah... - 
18). Imam Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah have reported this Hadith on the 
authority of Sayyidna Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri. 

It appears in Al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Holy Prophet ^ 
said: ‘a person who presents himself in the masjid morning and eve¬ 
ning, Allah Ta‘ala sets aside a rank of Paradise for him.’ 

And Sayyidna Salman al-Farisi narrates that the Holy Prophet ^ 
said: ‘a person who comes into the masjid is a visiting guest of Allah 
Ta‘ala - and it is incumbent on the host that He honors the guest.’ 
(Mazhari with reference to Tabarani, Ibn Jarir, al-Baihaqi and others) 

The commentator of the Qur’an, Qadi Thana’ullah of Panipat has 
said, ‘the expression ‘maintenance of the masajid’ also requires that 
the masjid should be cleansed of things and practices for which it was 
not made. It includes activities like buying and selling, worldly conver¬ 
sation, search of lost property, asking people for material help, recita¬ 
tion of idle poetry, disputation, fighting, disturbing peace by noises 
and things like that. (Mazhari) 


Verses 19 - 23 


Jjl tf'&S jrSu t\L, 

U£tfj' fjZJi ^ 4 iiij- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


330 



Have you taken the serving of water to the pilgrims 
and the maintenance of Al-masjid-al-haram as equal to 


(the acts) of one who believes in Allah and in the Last 
Day, and takes up Jihad in the way of Allah? They are 
not equal in the sight of Allah* And Allah does not lead 
the wrongdoing people to the right path. [19] 

Those who believed and emigrated and took up Jihad 
in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives are 
greater in rank in the sight of Allah, and they are the 
successful ones. [20] 

Their Lord gives them the happy news of Mercy from 
Him, and Pleasure, and of Gardens having an 
everlasting bliss for them, [21] where they shall dwell 
forever. Surely, it is Allah with whom there is a great 
reward. [22] 

O those who believe, do not take your fathers and your 
brothers as your friends, if they prefer infidelity to 
Faith. And whoever from you has friendship with them, 
then such people are the wrongdoers. [23] 

Commentary 

The first four verses (19 - 22) relate to a particular event. A cursory 
look into its background shows that many Mushriks of Makkah felt 
proud that they kept the Sacred Mosque bustling with visitors and 
devotees and ran a drinking water service for the pilgrims. Keeping 
their rival Muslims in view, they claimed that no deed by anyone could 
match theirs. When Sayyidna ‘Abbas came to Muslims as a 

prisoner from the battle of Badr, he had not embraced Islam by that 
time. His Muslim relatives reproached him for remaining deprived of 
the blessing of Tman. In response, he too had said the same things, 
‘you think Iman and Hijrah are big feathers in your cap, but we too 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


331 


have our own assets. We are the custodians of the building of the Sa¬ 
cred Mosque and serve water to the pilgrims. No deed by anyone can 
match these.’ Revealed thereupon were these verses. (Ibn Kathlr on the au- 
thority of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah from Ibn 'Abbas) 

And according to some narratives in the Musnad of ‘Abd al-Razzaq, 
it was after the entry of Sayyidna ‘Abbas as. *1)1 into the fold of Islam 
that Sayyidna Talhah ibn Shaybah, Sayyidna ‘Abbas and Sayyidna ‘Ali 

*1)1 were talking together. Talhah said: ‘I enjoy an excellence 
which none of you do. I have the keys to the Baytullah in my hands. If 
I wish I could go inside it and spend the night there.’ Sayyidna ‘Abbas 
said: ‘I am the administrator of the water service for pilgrims and I 
have rights to the Sacred Mosque.’ Sayyidna Ali *^& *1)1 ^ said, ‘I do 
not understand that which makes you so proud. As for me, I have said 
my prayers facing the Baytullah six months before anyone of you and I 
have participated in Jihad with the Holy Prophet jJLj *J u *1)1 There¬ 

upon, these verses were revealed. They made it clear that no deed 
done without ’Iman, no matter how merit worthy, carries any value in 
the sight of Allah, and no doer of such deeds, while still involved in 
Shirk, is acceptable with Him. 

And the Sahih of Muslim reports an event on the authority of Sayy¬ 
idna Nu'man ibn Bashir ^ *1)1 ^j who says that he was sitting with 
some Companions close to the Mimbar of the Holy Prophet *Jx Jj! 

|Jl*j in his Mosque on a Friday. Someone from those present there said, 
‘In my view, after Islam and ’Iman, there is no deed superior to serving 
water to the pilgrims and I do not care about any deed other than this.’ 
Someone else retorted, ‘no, Jihad in the way of Allah is the highest of 
all deeds.’ When an argument started between those two, Sayyidna 
‘Umar *ls *JL)I reprimanded both of them and said, ‘stop quarreling 
near the Mimbar of the Holy Prophet jJs. *1)1 The proper thing to 
do is to say your Jumu‘ah prayer first, then you can go and ask the 
Holy Prophet jJLj *Ju. *1)1 himself about it.’ As suggested, they did go 
to the Holy Prophet JLy *J*t *1)1 Jl*. to find out his opinion on the matter. 
Thereupon, these verses were revealed where Jihad has been identi¬ 
fied as the deed superior to the ‘building’ of the Sacred Mosque and the 
serving of water to pilgrims. 

There is nothing far out about the possibility that the revelation of 
the verses themselves may have been aimed as an answer to the pride 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


332 


and arrogance of the Mushriks. Later, when unpleasant things took 
place among Muslims, it is quite possible that the same verses were 
used as the deciding argument - which might have given the listeners 
the feeling that these particular verses were revealed in the back¬ 
ground of that particular event. 

However, the present 'ay at of the Qur’an carry an answer to both 
these kinds of events — that an accomplishment, no matter how good 
and acceptable, is reduced to zero if it smacks of Shirk. Therefore, no 
Mushrik is superior to Muslims because of his association with the 
maintenance of the Mosque or the serving of water to pilgrims. And 
even after their rejection of disbelief and entry into Faith, the status of 
’Iman and Jihad is much higher than the maintenance of the Sacred 
Mosque and the serving of water to pilgrims. Muslims who took the in¬ 
itiative in ’Iman and Jihad are superior to Muslims who did not take 
part in Jihad and remained rendering these services to the Sacred 
Mosque and the pilgrims. 


After these introductory remarks, let us go back to the words of the 
verses and their translation once again. It reads: 



Have you taken the serving of water to the pilgrims and the 
maintenance of Al-masjid-al-haram as equal to (the acts) of 
one who believes in Allah and in the Last Day, and takes up 
jihad in the way of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of 
Allah - 19) 


Seen contextually, the purpose is to urge that each one from ’Iman 
and Jihad is superior to the serving of water to pilgrims and the main¬ 
tenance of the Mosque, that is, ’Iman too is superior to both, and Jihad 
too. Thus, the superiority of ’Iman provides an answer to what the 
Mushriks said and the superiority of Jihad corrects Muslims who said 
that maintaining the Mosque and serving water to pilgrims were su¬ 
perior to Jihad. 


The Dhikr of Allah is superior to Jihad 

Qadi Thana’ullah has said in Tafsir Mazhari, ‘the precedence given 
to Jihad over the maintenance of the Mosque has been done in terms 
of physical and outward maintenance, that is, the building, repair, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


333 


cleaning and allied arrangements - for it goes without saying that Ji¬ 
had takes precedence over these.’ 

But, the maintenance (‘imarah) of the masjid is not restricted to 
this sense alone. It has another meaning also, that of being present in 
the masjid for ‘Ibadah and Dhikr of Allah, which also applies here 
strongly. In fact, the genuine flowering of the objective of making, 
maintaining and manning the masjid with eager devotees comes out 
from this factor alone. Given this sense, the maintenance of the masjid 

- as very clearly stated by the Holy Prophet jJL, ^ *1)1 - is superior 

to Jihad. To substantiate, we can refer to the report of Sayyidna Abu 
al-Darda’ appearing in the Musnad of Ahmad and in Tirmidhi and Ibn 
Majah. According to this report, the Holy Prophet *Jut *1)1 <J L, said, 
‘should I not tell you about an act that is superior to all your acts and 
certainly more so in the sight of your Master? - This act would raise 
your ranks to the highest levels, would be even superior to spending 
gold and silver in the way of Allah, and still be way superior to that 
you bravely fight your enemies in Jihad where you kill them and they 
kill you?’ The noble Companions said, ‘Do tell us about that act, Ya 
Rasulallah.’ He said, ‘that act is the Dhikr of Allah.’ This tells us that 
the merit of the Dhikr of Allah is more pronounced than that of Jihad 
also. And if the ‘maintenance of the masjid’ is taken in the sense of the 
Dhikr of Allah, then, it is superior to Jihad. But, at this place, the 
pride shown by the Mushriks was not based on the Dhikr of Allah and 
the ‘Ibadah performed in the masjid, instead, it was based on its struc¬ 
tural and administrative aspects. Therefore, Jihad was deemed as su¬ 
perior to that. 

And when we deliberate into different statements of the Qur’an 
and Sunnah as a whole, it appears that the phenomena of the superi¬ 
ority of one act over the other depends on attending conditions and cir¬ 
cumstances. There are conditions when one act is superior to the oth¬ 
er. With a change in conditions, things could be the other way round. 
When Islam and Muslims must be defended at all costs, at that time 
Jihad shall definitely be more merit worthy as compared to all ‘Ibadat 

- as evident from the event of the battle of Khandaq where the Holy 
Prophet Ju-j Jit Jl* had to miss four of his daily prayers ( qada ). Con¬ 
versely, when the need is not so acute, the Dhikr of Allah and ‘Ibadah 
will be more merit worthy as compared to Jihad. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


334 


i , , 

At the end of the verse (19), by saying: (And Allah 

does not lead the wrongdoing people to the right path), it was pointed 
out that the thing they were being told about was not difficult to un¬ 
derstand. In fact, it was clear, as clear as it can be - that ’Iman is the 
foundation of all that is done, and is superior to all of them. Then 
comes Jihad that is superior as compared to the maintenance of the 
masjid and serving water to pilgrims. But, Allah Ta‘ala does not bless 
the unjust and the wrongdoing with the gift of understanding. There¬ 
fore, they keep at their crooked hairsplitting into things that are oth¬ 
erwise very open and obvious. 


Verse 20 enlarges upon the subject initiated with the words: 'dj-dj 
{la yastawun: they are not equal) in the previous verse (19) where it 
was said that the believing Mujahidin and those engaged only in main¬ 
taining the masjid and serving water to pilgrims are not equal. This 
was enlarged by saying: xs. pd\ ft J£\j JJi J if, ij&l'&il \ 

(those who believed and emigrated and took up jihad in 
the way of Allah, with their wealth and lives, are greater in rank in 
the sight of Allah, and they are the successful ones). The reason is that 
the Mushriks against them simply had no measure of success what¬ 
soever. As for Muslims in general, they too shared this success in es¬ 
sence, but the success of those identified above had more to it. There¬ 
fore, they were the ones whose success was comprehensive. 

Verses 21 and 22 tell us about the great reward and ranks these 
successful people shall have in the life to come: 

z-' 9 > f 

I * j » * I • ^ y ~ m $9 a • \ s 3 • >9 , „ ^ w | .. ? * 9*y - * * ~ , 9 . , 9 


Their Lord gives them the happy news of Mercy from Him, 
and Pleasure, and of Gardens having an everlasting bliss for 
them, where they shall dwell for ever. Surely,‘it is Allah with 
whom there is a great reward. 


These verses mention the merits of Hijrah and Jihad which require 
that one leaves his country, relatives, friends, companions, wealth and 
property, all in one stroke. As obvious, surrendering all these attach¬ 
ments is most difficult and painful. Therefore, in the next verse (23), 
the text disapproves of limitless attachment with these things and 
thereby prepares Muslim minds to welcome Hijrah and Jihad. It was 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


335 


said: 



O those who believe, do not take your fathers and your broth¬ 
ers as friends, if they prefer infidelity over Faith. And whoev¬ 
er from you has friendship with them, then such people are 
the wrongdoers. 

As for the need to maintain strong bonds of kinship with parents, 
brothers and sisters and other kinsfolk and to treat all of them gener¬ 
ously, the Qur’an remains full of relevant instructions. But, this verse 
has made it very clear that each relationship has a limit. Every rela¬ 
tionship out of these, whether that of parents and children or that of 
real brother and sister, has to be bypassed when it stands in competi¬ 
tion with one’s relationship with Allah and His Messenger. Should 
these two relationships come on a collision course on some occasion, 
then, the relationship that has to be kept intact is one’s relationship 
with Allah and His Messenger. All relationships competing against it 
are to be ignored. 

Some special notes and rulings 

Some special notes and rulings emerging from verses 19 - 23 are be¬ 
ing given below: 

1. ’Iman (faith) is the moving spirit of ‘Amal (deed). A deed devoid 
of it, no matter how good, is nothing but a lifeless form, and simply un¬ 
acceptable. It has no worth in terms of the salvation in the Hereafter. 
Of course, there is no injustice with Allah Ta'ala. He would not let even 
good deeds of disbelievers that are devoid of the essential light of faith 
go waste in toto. Their return is given to them right here in this world 
of their experience. They are given possessions and wealth to procure 
articles and means of comfort and self-satisfaction as desired. Thus, 
their account stands all settled, something the Holy Qur’an takes up in 
several verses of the Holy Qur’an. 


2. Sin and disobedience spoil human reason. One starts taking 
good as bad and bad as good. The statement: ' } (And Al¬ 

lah does not lead the wrongdoing people to the right path -19) releases 
a hint in this direction. Similarly, it has been counterbalanced in an¬ 
other verse of the Qur’an by saying: Uliji liJSill \ “O those who 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 19 - 23 


336 


believe, if you fear Allah, He will provide you with a criterion (to dis¬ 
tinguish between right and wrong) - 8:29.” This gives a clear indication 
that the attitude of obeying Allah and fearing Him gives polish and 
luster to human reason, balance and poise to thinking and a never- 
failing ability to distinguish between good and bad. 

3. Even good deeds have a mutual rivalry for precedence. Corre¬ 

spondingly, the same element of precedence operates in the ranks of 
those who do good deeds. All doers of deeds cannot be placed in the 
same rank since things depend, not on abundance, but on the quality 
of deeds. It was said in Surah al-Mulk: ^(so that He 

might test you as to who among you is better in deed - 67:2). 

4. For blessings to remain everlasting two things are necessary - 

that there is no end to them and that they are not separated from 
those who are blessed with them. Therefore, a guarantee was given to 
the favored servants of Allah on both counts. By saying: psSp *; 
(Gardens having an everlasting bliss for them -21), it was declared that 
the blessings were eternal. Then, by saying: fejgAi- (where they 

shall dwell forever -22), these successful people were assured that they 
shall never be separated from these blessings. 

The real bond is the bond of Islam and Iman - all bonds of line¬ 
age and country must be sacrificed for it 

5. The fifth point elaborated here is of basic importance. It settles 
that the relation with Allah and His Messenger should be given prece¬ 
dence over all relations of kinship and friendship. The relation that 
clashes against it deserves to be broken. This was the way of the noble 
Companions. This was why they rose to be the superior most people of 
the Muslim Ummah. It was some trail they blazed by sacrificing all 
that was with them, their life, wealth, property, relatives and bonds of 
all sorts, only for the sake of Allah and His Messenger. That the bond 
of Islam was supreme and universal stood proved when Bilal from 
Ethiopea, Suhayb from Byzantium, Salman from Persia, the Quraysh 
from Makkah and the Ansar from Madinah became brothers to each 
other. And that the bonds of lineage and tribe had to be cast aside was 
also demonstrated when, on the battlefields of Badr and TJhud, swords 
were crossed between father and son and between brother and broth¬ 
er. These are significant evidences of the creed they held dear. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 24 


337 




<■ ' 


T Z& i ilijji ^Iji 


Ya Allah, bless us with the ability to follow them, and make 
Your love the dearest of everything in our sight and make 
Your fear the most fear-worthy of everything with us. 


Verse 24 



Say, “If your fathers and your sons and your brothers 
and your spouses and your clan and the wealth you 
have earned and the trade you apprehend will recede 
and the homes you like are dearer to you than Allah 
and His Messenger and jihad in His way, then, wait un 
til Allah comes with His command. And Allah does not 
lead the sinning people to the right path. [24] 


Commentary 

This verse of Surah al-Taubah was revealed essentially about peo¬ 
ple who did not migrate from Makkah at the time migration was made 
obligatory for them. Their love for family and property had stopped 
them from carrying out their obligation to migrate. In their case, Allah 
Almighty asked the Holy Prophet (JLy *Ae Jjl Jl* to tell them what ap¬ 
pears in the verse cited above. 

As for the statement: “Wait until Allah comes with His command,” 
Tafsir authority Mujahid has said that ‘command’ referred to here 
means the command to carry out Jihad and conquer Makkah. The 
sense of the statement is that the time is near when the evil end of 
those who sacrifice their relationship with Allah and His Messenger 
for the sake of worldly bonds shall become visible to all. That is the 
time when Makkah shall stand conquered, those who chose to discard 
their appointed duty shall face disgrace and their bonds ydth people 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 24 


338 


and things they fancied shall be of no avail to them. 

Then, there is the interpretation of the famous Hasan al-Basri who 
has said that ‘command’ at this place means the command of punish¬ 
ment. The sense is that those who sacrificed their spiritual bonds as 
related to the Hereafter just for the sake of their attachment to what 
was blandly material and did not migrate as instructed were people 
who would be seized by the Divine command of punishment fairly 
soon. Either this punishment would come upon them right here in this 
mortal world, or they shall have to face the punishment of the Here¬ 
after - which is certain. The purpose at this place is to serve a note of 
warning against the abandonment of the obligation of migration - but, 
what has been mentioned here is ‘Jihad’ and not Hijrah (migration), 
which is the next step after Hijrah. The hint embedded here is that the 
real thing has not happened yet. What has come up right now is no 
more than the initial command to migrate. There are people who did 
not have the courage to do even that. Ahead of them is the forthcoming 
command of Jihad following which they would have to surrender all 
worldly attachments for the sake of love for Allah and His Messenger, 
even stake their lives for that noble cause. And it is also possible that 
this may be a place where migration itself has been made to stand for 
Jihad - because, in reality, that too is nothing but a department of Ji¬ 
had. 

Finally, by saying: )l fji)l iJJIj (And Allah does not lead the 

sinning people to the right path) at the end of the verse, it was made 
amply clear that those who, despite the standing command of migra¬ 
tion, opted for their temporal relationships and kept clinging to their 
family, relatives, wealth and property, shall soon find out that this 
conduct of theirs was not going to serve their purpose even in this mor¬ 
tal world. If they were thinking that they would keep basking in the 
sunshine of family, wealth and property in everlasting peace and tran¬ 
quility, then, they would never realize this dream. Once the command 
of Jihad comes, these very attractions will turn into burdens too cum¬ 
bersome to go along with - because, Allah Ta'ala does not allow the 
sinning and the disobedient to achieve their desired objective. 

Standing Rules of Hijrah (migration) 

1. First of all, when Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah was made 
obligatory, it was not simply a matter of obligation, in fact, it was also 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 24 


339 


a hallmark and a symbol of being a Muslim. Anyone who did not mi¬ 
grate at that time, despite having the ability to do so, was not taken to 
be a Muslim. This injunction was abrogated after the Conquest of 
Makkah. 

2. After that, the basic injunction which remained operative was: 
Should there be a land where it is not possible for one to comply with 
his or her religious obligations, such as praying and fasting in accor¬ 
dance with the injunctions of Allah, migrating from there shall remain 
a matter of duty ifard) for ever - on condition that one is capable of un¬ 
dertaking such migration. This is the first degree of compliance. 

3. Compliance in the second degree is that one should leave every 
such place where sin and disobedience have a dominant role in life. 
This act remains recommended ( mustahabb ) for ever, (see details in Fath 
al-Bari) 

It will be noticed that the address in the verse under study is di¬ 
rect. Those being addressed are people who did not migrate when they 
were asked to do so because they cared more about their worldly 
bonds. But, the generality of the words of the verse is telling all Mus¬ 
lims that their love for Allah and His Messenger is obligatory on them 
in a special degree. That degree is the highest, the foremost. This de¬ 
gree requires that no other bond or love for anything or anyone should 
ever prevail over it. So, whoever fails to come up with this level of love 
becomes deserving of punishment from Allah. Let him, then, wait for 
it. 

The Touchstone of True Faith (’/man) 

Therefore, it has been reported in an authentic Hadith narrated by 
Sayyidna Anas ibn Malik *^e Jjl which appears in the two collections 
of al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Holy Prophet JL.j *Jlc <1)1 Ju* said: No 
one can be a true believer until I become to him dearer than his father, 
children and everyone else in this world. 

According to a Hadith from Sayyidna Abu Umamah *^c *1)1 ^j ap¬ 
pearing in Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi, the Holy Prophet ^ *Ac. *1)1 has 
said: Anyone who takes a friend or makes an enemy for the sake of Al¬ 
lah or spends his wealth or withholds it for the sake of Allah has made 
his faith perfect. 

These narrations from Hadith prove that perfection of faith de- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 24 


340 


pends on the dominance of the love for the Holy Prophet (J—j *4* *1)1 
over all other kinds of love, friendship and enmity, concession and res¬ 
ervation - all of which must remain subservient to the will and com¬ 
mand of Allah and His Messenger. 

Tafsir authority, Qldl al-Baidawi and other commentators have 
said that there are very few people who could be considered exempt 
from the warning given in this verse. The reason is that even the 
greatest among those who practice and teach religious percepts and 
virtues seem to be subdued by their love for family and belongings - of 
course, with the exception of those Allah wills to be otherwise. Howev¬ 
er, Qadi al-Baidawi explains further by saying that ‘love’ here means 
love that is within one’s control. It has nothing to do with love which 
one does not control, that which is natural - because Allah Ta'ala does 
not obligate anyone beyond one’s capacity and control. Therefore, a 
person may have his heart full of natural love for worldly bonds but he 
should not let it overpower him to the limit that he starts acting 
against the will and command of Allah and His Messenger If so, this 
warning will not apply to him and he will be taken as one who keeps 
his love for Allah and His Messenger above everything. This is very 
much like the case of a patient who gets nervous about an unpleasant 
medicine or unexpected surgery. This is natural. But, he does agree to 
it rationally since it is for his own good. If so, it is not blameworthy. 
Then, commonsense never forces him to get rid of his natural nervous¬ 
ness and dislike. Similarly, if someone feels naturally uncomfortable 
while complying with some Divine injunctions due to his love for 
wealth and children, yet bears by the discomfort and carries those in¬ 
junctions out, then, that is not blameworthy either. In fact, it is praise¬ 
worthy for he would be regarded as one who keeps his love for Allah 
and His Messenger on top of everything in the light of this verse. 

Nevertheless, as for the high station of love is concerned, there is 
no doubt about the ideal that love must come to prevail over one’s na¬ 
ture as well and go on to turn every discomfort welcome while comply¬ 
ing with what your beloved would like you to do. This is not so difficult 
to comprehend. Think of the seekers of material comfort in this world. 
Day in and day out, they would embrace the hardest conceivable labor 
with a smile to get what they want. For a salary check at the end of 
the month, one would sacrifice sleep, comfort and social relationships. 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 24 


341 


Honestly or dishonestly, such a seeker would let his desire dominate 
everything else to achieve his goal. 

Moving away from the seekers of the material, let us consider the 
charisma of the People of Allah. When they seek Allah and His Mes¬ 
senger and the blessings of the-life-to-come, they too reach a station of 
love which pales out any thoughts of pain and discomfort. According to 
a Hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy Prophet ^1*, -l-U dJI 
said: There are three traits which, if found in a person, would bless 
him or her with the sweetness of faith. Those three traits are: (1) That 
Allah and His Messenger are, in his sight, dearer than anything other 
than them, (2) that one loves a servant of Allah for His sake only, (3) 
and that the very thought of Kufr and Shirk gives one the feeling of 
being thrown away into the fire. 

The ‘sweetness of faith’ mentioned in the Hadith quoted above 
means this very station of love that makes the hardest possible labor 
most welcome for the true seeker. Love has its own chemistry of turn¬ 
ing the sour into the sweet. Some Muslim scholars have pointed out 
that a heart when enriched with the sweetness of faith starts passing 
it on to other parts of the body which begin to relish it during acts of 
worship and obedience. In some reports, the same thing has been 
equated with the ecstasy of faith - and in Hadith, the Holy Prophet Ju* 
pJuj -lJL -JJI said: The delight of my eyes is in Salah. 

Qadi Thana’ullah of Panipat has said in Tafsir Mazhari: This station 
of love for Allah and His Messenger is a great blessing - but, it can be 
acquired only when one stays close to the People of Allah. It is for this 
reason that Muslim mystics consider it necessary that it be sought 
with Shaykhs. The author of Ruh al-Bayan has said that this station of 
friendship can be acquired by the one who is ready to sacrifice, like 
Sayyidna Ibrahim Khalilullah, -l_Ll everything for the love of Allah 
- wealth, children, life, everything. 

Finally, says commentator al-Baidawi: The preservation and pro¬ 
tection of the Sunnah and Shari'ah of the Holy Prophet JL-j *-lc dJI 
and the rebuttal of and the defense against those who oppose or ma¬ 
lign them is also an open sign of love for Allah and His Messenger. 

b d 1 1 ~T J ^ Iaj dJ I l»L9 jj 

May Allah bless us and bless all Muslims with love for Him and 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


342 


the love for His Messenger. 


Verses 25 - 27 



Allah has surely blessed you with His help on many 
battlefields, and on the day of Hunain* : (remember) 
when you were proud of your great number then it did 
not help you at all, and the earth was straitened for 
you despite all its vastness, then you turned away on 
your backs. [25] 


Then Allah sent down His tranquility upon His 
Messenger and upon the believers, and sent down 
forces which you did not see, and punished those who 
disbelieved. And that is the recompense of the 
disbelievers. [26] 


Yet Allah relents, after that, to whomsoever He wills. 
And Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. [27] 


Commentary: 

Described in the verses cited about are events relating to the sce¬ 
nario of defeat and victory at the battle of Hunain. Along with it, sev¬ 
eral primary and subsidiary problems have also been resolved as a cor¬ 
ollary. As the verse opens, Allah Ta‘ala mentions His favor and grace 
which has descended upon Muslims on all occasions and under all con¬ 
ditions. It was said: jlf (Allah has surely blessed you 

with His help on many battlefields). Particularly cited soon after this 
opener was: (and on the day of Hunain) that is, Muslims were 

blessed with the help of Allah on the day of the battle of Hunain as 


*. Hunain : The name of a place near Makkah, the site of the battle of Hu¬ 
nain. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


343 


well. 

The battle of Hunain was specially mentioned because many 
events and circumstances unfolded unexpectedly and extraordinarily 
during the course of this encounter. If you were to think about these 
happenings, you would realize that they make one stronger in faith 
and bolder in deed. Therefore, before we take up a literal explanation 
of the verses under study, it is appropriate to describe the major 
events of this battle. They appear in authentic books of Hadith and 
history. We are describing them in a somewhat detailed manner so 
that it becomes easier to understand not only the verses mentioned 
above but also the lessons that these events teach. The major portion 
of these events has been taken from Tafsir Mazhari. Necessary refer¬ 
ences to books of Hadith and history may be seen there. 

Hunain is the name of a place between Makkah al-Mukarramah 
and Ta’if. It is located at a distance of about ten miles from Makkah. 
When Makkah was conquered in Ramadan of Hijrah 8, the Quraysh of 
Makkah laid down their arms before the Holy Prophet *Ji* *1)1 
This alarmed the tribe of Banu Thaqif from Ta’if who were a branch of 
the tribe of Hawazin known all over Arabia as big, brave, rich and 
warring. They got together and considered the challenge posed by the 
newly gained strength of Muslims after their conquest of Makkah. 
Once the Muslims settled down, they concluded, they would turn to 
them. Therefore, they decided, the wisest course for them was to 
launch a pre-emptive attack on Muslims much before they came upon 
them. To carry out this plan, the tribe of Hawazin brought all its 
branches spread out from Makkah to Ta’if together. Included there 
were all big and small units of this tribe — except a few individuals 
who were less than a hundred in number. 

The leader of this movement was Malik ibn ‘Awf who became a 
Muslim later on and rose to be a major standard-bearer of Islam. How¬ 
ever, at that particular time, his zeal to attack Muslims was the high¬ 
est. Going along with him, the overwhelming majority of the tribe 
started preparing for war. Two small branches of this tribe, Banu Ka‘b 
and Banu Kilab, did not approve of this action plan. Allah Ta'ala had 
blessed them with some foresight. They said: Even if the forces of the 
whole world from the East to the West came together against Muham- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


344 


mad, he would still overcome all of them. We cannot fight the power of 
God (with him). As for the rest of them, they all gave their pledges to 
fight. Malik ibn ‘Awf devised a plan to ensure that all of them abided 
by their commitment to the war. He proposed that all participants 
should take their families and valuables with them. The catch was 
that, in case they thought of bolting away from the battlefield, the love 
of wife, children and things of value with them would hold them back 
like shackles on their feet and they would be left with no freedom to 
desert the battlefield. As for their numbers, historians differ. Accord¬ 
ing to the master of Hadith, ‘Allamah ibn Hajar and some others, the 
weightier opinion is that they were twenty-four or twenty eight thou¬ 
sand in number. Some others have given a number of four thousand. It 
is possible that, with the inclusion of women and children, the total 
number could be twenty-four or twenty eight thousand while the actu¬ 
al number of fighting men among them remained four thousand. 

Anyway, when the news of their dangerous intentions reached the 
Holy Prophet in Makkah al-Mukarramah, he decided to 

confront them. He appointed Sayyidna ‘Attab ibn Asid as the Amir of 
Makkah al-Mukarramah, left Sayyidna Mu‘adh ibn Jabal behind to 
teach people Islam, and asked the Quraysh of Makkah for weapons 
and other war supplies - of course, as a borrowing. The Quraysh chief, 
Safwan ibn Umaiyyah spoke out: ‘Do you want to take this war materi¬ 
al forcibly against our will?’ He said: ‘No, we would rather like to bor¬ 
row it from you, a borrowing guaranteed to be returned.' After hearing 
that, he gave one hundred coats of mail and Nawfil ibn Harith offered 
three thousand spears likewise. According to a narration of Imam Zuh- 
ri, the Holy Prophet was now ready to launch the Jihad 

with an army of fourteen thousand Companions - which included 
twelve thousand Ansar of Madlnah who had accompanied him for the 
conquest of Makkah. Then, there were two thousand Muslims who 
were residents of Makkah and its environs and who had embraced Is¬ 
lam at the time of its conquest. They are known as ‘al-tulaqa.’ It was 
on Saturday, the 6th of Shawwal that he marched out for this battle 
saying that the next day, insha’Allah, they shall be caimping at the 
spot in Khaif ban! Kinanah where the Quraysh of Makkah had assem¬ 
bled to write down their pledge to excommunicate Muslims. 

As for the army of fourteen thousand Mujahidin, it did march out of 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


345 


the city for Jihad. But, there was another crowd of people - many men 
and women of the city of Makkah - who also came out of their homes 
as spectators. Their hearts were excited with conflicting emotions. 
Speaking generally, if Muslims were to be defeated on this occasion, 
they thought, they would have a good chance of taking their revenge 
against Muslims - and if they were to win, they consoled themselves 
that they were not going to lose anything after all. 

Shaibah ibn ‘Uthman was one of these spectators. When he em¬ 
braced Islam later on, he narrated what had happened to him: ‘In the 
battle of Badr, my father was killed by Hamzah and my uncle by Sayy- 
idna ‘All. My heart was full of anger. I was bent on taking my revenge. 
I took advantage of this opportunity and started walking alongside the 
Muslim forces. The purpose was to find an opportunity and attack the 
Holy Prophet jJLy *JLe J)l JL*. I kept hanging with them always on the 
look out for that opportunity until came the time during the initial 
stage of this Jihad when some Muslims had started losing their 
ground. When I found them running, I seized the opportunity and 
reached close to the Holy Prophet |JL,j aJU JlII Jl*. But, I saw that 
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas was guarding him on the right and Abu Sufyan 
ibn Harith on the left. Therefore, I dashed towards the rear with the 
intention of attacking him with my sword all of a sudden. Right then, 
he happened to look at me and he called out to me: 'Shaibah, come 
here.' He asked me to come closer. Then, he put his blessed hand on 
my chest and prayed: ‘O Allah, remove the Shaytan away from him.’ 
Now, when I raise my eyes, the Holy Prophet (Ji—j Jji becomes in 
my heart dearer than my own eye and ear and life. He said to me: 'Go 
and fight the disbelievers.' Now, there I was staking my life for him, 
fighting the enemy valiantly right to the end. When the Holy Prophet 
jJl-j jJlc Jji returned from this Jihad, I presented myself before him. 
At that time, he told me about the thoughts I had when I started off 
from Makkah with a particular intention and how I was shadowing 
him in order to kill him. But, since Allah had intended that I must do 
something good, I did what I did.’ 

Something similar happened to Nadr ibn Harith. He too had gone 
to Hunain with the same intention. However, when he reached there, 
Allah Ta'Ila put in his heart the thought of the innocence of the Holy 
Prophet ,jL-j *Ji£ JJI and a feeling of love for him. This turned him 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


346 


into a valiant Mujahid who took no time in piercing through the enemy 
lines. 

During the course of this very expedition, yet another event took 
place. This concerns Abu Burdah ibn Niyar When he reached the place 
known as Awtas, he saw that the Holy Prophet ,JLy **L& *1)1 was sit¬ 
ting under a tree and there was someone else with him. The Holy 
Prophet ,Jl,j *JU *1)1 told Abu Burdah that he was sleeping when the 
man sitting with him came, grabbed his sword, positioned by the side 
of his head and said: ‘O Muhammad, now tell me who can save you 
from me?’ I said, ‘Allah!’ When he heard this, the sword fell down from 
his hands.’ Abu Burdah said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, please allow me to 
behead this enemy of Allah, he looks like a spy.’ The Holy Prophet 
,JLj *JU *1)1 said: ‘Abu Burdah, say no more. Allah Ta‘all is my Protector 
until my religion prevails over all others.’ After all that, he uttered not 
a single word of reproach for that person, in fact, let him go free. 

When Muslims camped after reaching Hunain, Sayyidna Suhail 
ibn Hanzalah came to the Holy Prophet *-U *1)1 with the news 
that one of their riders had brought a report that the entire tribe of 
Hawazin had arrived with an array of their war materials. Hearing 
this, the Holy Prophet ^ *-Lc *1)1 smiled and said: ‘Do not worry. All 
this material has come as war spoils for Muslims!’ 

Once settled at the camping grounds, the Holy Prophet *Ju. *1)1 Jl* 
jJi-j sent Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn Haddad to gather intelligence from the 
area controlled by the enemy. He went there and stayed with them for 
two days watching all prevailing conditions closely. He saw the enemy 
leader and commander, Mllik ibn ‘Awf and heard him saying to his 
people: ‘Muhammad has yet to face a nation of experienced warriors. 
That fight against the innocent Quraysh of Makkah has given him 
false notions. He has become proud of his power. Now, he will find out 
where he stands. Let all of you go in battle formation at the early hour 
of dawn in a manner that each warrior has his wife, children and arti¬ 
cles of value behind him. Then, take your swords out of the sheaths, 
break the sheaths, and attack, all together in one go.’ These people 
were really very experienced in warfare. They had deployed their forc¬ 
es not only openly but secretly too. For example, they had hidden some 
units of their army in different mountain passes. 

This was a view of how the army of disbelievers was getting ready 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


347 


to fight. On the other side, this was the first Jihad of Muslims in 
which fourteen thousand fighters had come out to confront the enemy. 
The war material they had with them was much more than they ever 
had. Then, they had the experience of Badr and TJhud where they had 
seen how a negligible number of three hundred and thirteen ill- 
equipped men had triumphed over a strong army of one thousand well- 
equipped fighters. Under these circumstances, when they came to 
think about their numbers and preparations on that day, some unfor¬ 
tunate words - ‘today, it is impossible that anyone can defeat us, for to¬ 
day, once the fighting starts, the enemy will run’ - were uttered by 
some of them (as reported by Hakim and Bazzar). 

This attitude - that someone relies solely on one’s own power - was 
something disliked by the supreme Master of humans, jinns and an¬ 
gels. Hence, Muslims were taught a lesson for their lack of discretion. 
They got a taste of it when the tribe of Hawazin, following their battle 
plan, launched a surprise attack and their army units lurking in 
mountain passes encircled Muslims from all sides. The dust kicked up 
by their sudden tactical advance turned the day into night, the Com¬ 
panions lost their foothold and started running. In contrast, the Holy 
Prophet ^ <lJU Jji was the lone figure seen advancing on his mount, 
forward and not backwards. A counted few of his noble Companions - 
reportedly, three hundred, or even less than one hundred as said by 
others - did, however, stay with him, but they too wished that he 
would not continue advancing. 

Then, the Holy Prophet JLy *JL)l realized that the situation 
was grave. He asked Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas ^ *lJl to call his 
Companions. These were his Companions who had given him a pledge 
to fight when they had assembled under the Tree. Then, he pointed 
out to those who had been mentioned in the Qur’an as well as to the 
Ansar of Madinah who had promised to stake their lives in this- Jihad. 
He wanted all of them to come back and wanted them to know that the 
Messenger of Allah was present on the battlefield. 

The call given by Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas ^ JL)l ran 
through the battlefield like some power current. All deserters were 
smitten with remorse. They regrouped with fresh vigor and valor and 
fought against the enemy fully and decisively. First the enemy com¬ 
mander, Malik ibn ‘Awf ran away from the battlefield leaving his fami- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


348 


ly and belongings behind and took refuge in the fort of Ta’if. After him, 
the rest of his people deserted the battlefield. Seventy of their chiefs 
were killed. Incidentally, when some children received wounds at the 
hands of Muslim soldiers, the Holy Prophet ,Ju, *-Lc -JJI took immedi¬ 
ate notice and prohibited them sternly against any such action in fu¬ 
ture. Everything they left fell into Muslim hands. It included six thou¬ 
sand prisoners of war, twenty four thousand camels, forty thousand 
goats and four thousand ’Uqiyah* of silver. 

The same subject has been taken up in the first (25) and second (26) 
verses. The gist of what was said there is: ‘when you waxed proud of 
your numbers, it did not work for you and you found yourself all cor¬ 
nered as if the earth was straitened for you despite its vastness. Then, 
you showed your backs and ran. Then, Allah Ta'ala sent down upon 
you His tranquility - sending forces of angels for His Messenger and 
the believers with him, something you did not see. Thus, the disbeliev¬ 
ers were punished at your hands.’ 

It will be useful to explain the statement: JUj dJJjjLZ L&SLztui jjjfp 
(Then Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger and 
upon the believers) appearing in verse 26 a little further. It means that 
Allah Ta‘ala sent down His tranquility upon the hearts of the noble 
Companions who had lost their foothold on the battlefield during the 
initial attack of the enemy at Hunain. This caused their feet to become 
firm again and those who had run away came back. As for the sending 
of tranquility upon the Holy Prophet ^ *Jut *1)1 and the Companions 
who had stayed on the war front with firmness and determination, it 
means that they could see victory close at hand. And since the tran¬ 
quility mentioned here was of two kinds - one for those who ran, and 
the other for those who stayed on with the Holy Prophet jJu. Jjl Jl* 
with firmness and determination - it is to point out to this refinement 
that the expressions: (...upon His Messenger and upon 

the believers) have been placed separately and introduced one after 
the other with the repetition of the preposition Jj. (‘ ala : upon). 

After that, it was said: l*j>ijjSDjllj (... and sent down forces which 
you did not see). This means that the people at large did not see. That 
some reports mention the ‘seeing’ of these ‘forces’ should not be taken 


* 1 ’Uqiyah = 122.472 grams approximately. (4c^i jljjl / Mufti Muhammad Shaft) 




Surah AI-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


349 


as contrary to this. 

After that, in conclusion, it was said: l tTyZ iuIj It 

means that Allah punished those who disbelieved - and those who dis¬ 
believed deserved that punishment. This punishment or recompense 
refers to their subjugation at the hands of Muslims which was some¬ 
thing witnessed openly. In sum, what was their worldly punishment, 
they received promptly. As for their fate in the Hereafter, it has been 
mentioned in verse 27: itsS& JU ZUi JL'&tijl 4>J&p (Yet Allah 

relents, after that, to whomsoever He wills. And Allah is Most- 
Forgiving, Very-Merciful). 


A hint has been given here that some people out of those who have 
received their punishment in the form of defeat at Muslim hands in 
this Jihad and who still keep adhering to their disbelief will be blessed 
with the ability to become true believers. The manner in which this 
happened is given below in some details. 


Victory of Hunain: Enemy chiefs embrace Islam, Prisoners 
Return 

It will be recalled that some chiefs from the tribes of Hawazin and 
Thaqif were killed in the battle of Hunain. Some ran away. Their fami¬ 
lies became prisoners of war and their properties fell into Muslim 
hands as spoils that included six thousand prisoners, twenty four 
thousand camels, more than forty thousand goats and four thousand 
TJqiyah of silver that equals approximately 489.888 kilograms. The 
Holy Prophet ,J~j Ut *1)1 appointed Sayyidna Abu Sufyan ibn Harb as 
the Custodian of war spoils. 


After that, the defeated forces of Hawazin and Thaqif tried to re¬ 
group at various places to challenge Muslims but at every such place 
they kept facing defeat. Such was the awe of their victors that they 
chose to lock themselves up into the strong fortress of Ta’if. The Holy 
Prophet & put this fortress under siege which lasted up to fifteen or 
twenty days. The besieged enemy kept shooting their arrows from in¬ 
side the fortress. They could not muster enough courage to come out in 
the open. The Companions of the Holy Prophet pUj JJI requested 
him to pray that some evil befalls these people - but he prayed that 
they be guided right. Then, he went into consultation with his Com¬ 
panions and decided to return. When he reached Ji'irranah he intend- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


350 


ed to go to Makkah al-Mu‘azzamah and perform “Umrah and then re¬ 
turn to Madinah. Many of the Makkans who had come as spectators of 
Muslim victory or defeat seized the occasion to announce their conver¬ 
sion to Islam. 

It was on arrival at this stage of the journey that arrangements 
were made to distribute spoils. While this distribution was still in pro¬ 
cess, a deputation of fourteen chiefs of the tribe of Hawazin led by Zu- 
hayr ibn Surad came in all of a sudden. They had come to pay their re¬ 
spects to the Holy Prophet jJLj jJj. Jji Included in the group was Abu 
Yarqan, a foster uncle of the Holy Prophet pJLj dJl who came up 
to him, told him that they had embraced Islam and requested that 
their families and properties may be returned to them. The request 
was made more personal when he reminded the Messenger of Allah 
that they were related to him through the bond of fosterage and they 
were in a distress that was no secret for him. So, he pleaded for his fa¬ 
vor. The leader of the deputation was a man of poetry. He said: ‘O 
Messenger of Allah, had we presented some such request in a distress 
like this before the King of Byzantine or Iraq, then they too - we be¬ 
lieve - would have not rejected our entreaty. And as for you, Allah has 
certainly made you the foremost in high morals, so we have come to 
you with high hopes.’ 

The Holy Prophet jgj' who was himself a mercy for the whole world 
found his difficulty compounded. On the one hand, his inherent mercy 
for people demanded that all prisoners and properties be returned to 
them, while on the other, he realized that all Mujahidin have a right in 
spoils and depriving all of them of their due right was not proper in 
terms of justice. Therefore, according to a report in the Sahih of al- 
Bukhari, the Holy Prophet H* addressed his companions saying: 

“Here are your brothers. They have repented. I wish that 
their prisoners should be returned back to them. Those from 
you who are ready to return their share willingly, and with 
pleasure, should do so as an act of grace. As for those who 
are not ready to do so, to them we shall give a proper return 
for it from the first Fai’ properties (spoils gained without 
fighting) that come to us in future." 

Seeking of public opinion: The correct method 

Voices rose from all sides that they were willing to return, all pris- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 25 - 27 


351 


oners in good cheer but, in view of his concern in matters involving 
justice, equity and rights, the Holy Prophet (J—j *J U *lll did not con¬ 
sider different voices of this nature as sufficient. He said: I do not 
know who are those who got ready to surrender their right gladly and 
who are those who remained silent under pressure. This is a matter of 
the rights of people. Therefore, every head of a family or chief of a 
group should go to their respective families and groups, talk to them 
individually, separately and frankly, and tell him the truth. 

Following his wishes, the chiefs went back to their people, met 
each of them separately, secured their first-hand agreement and re¬ 
ported to the Holy Prophet jJLj *lJl JL* that all of them were ready to 
surrender their rights. Then, the Holy Prophet *Jlc -JLn t _ r L=> returned 
all those prisoners back to them. 

These were the people whose Taubah or repentance was pointed to 
in verse 27 which begins with the words: iui (Yet Allah 

relents, after that, to whomsoever He wills). As for the details of 
events that came to pass during the battle of Hunain, part of it has 
been mentioned in the Qur’an while the rest has been taken from au¬ 
thentic narrations of Hadith. (Mazhari and Ibn Kathir) 

Injunctions and Rulings 

Many injunctions, rulings and subsidiary elements of guidance ap¬ 
pear here under the shadows of these events. In fact, they are the very 
purpose of the narration of these events. 

The very first instruction given in these verses is that Muslims 
should never wax proud of their power or numerical superiority. They 
should realize that the way they look towards Allah and His help at 
times when they are weak and deficient, very similarly, when they are 
strong and powerful, their total trust should also remain on nothing 
but the help of Allah alone. 

In the battle of Hunain, Muslims enjoyed numerical superiority. 
They had sufficient weapons and supplies. This led some Companions 
to utter words of pride to the effect that no one could dare defeat them 
on that particular day. Allah Ta‘ala did not like that a group of people 
so dear to him would say something like that. The result was that 
Muslims lost their foothold on the battlefield at the time the enemy 
launched the initial attack. They started running. Then, it was only 




Surah AI-Taubah : 


352 


with unseen help from Allah that this battle was won. 

Properties of defeated non-believers: 

The need for justice and caution 

The second instruction given here relates to the need for observing 
caution and justice when handling properties owned by non-believers 
who have been defeated and overpowered. This is illustrated by the ac¬ 
tion taken by the Holy Prophet *lJl when he had taken war 

materials for the battle of Hunain from the vanquished non-Muslims 
of Makkah. This was an occasion when these supplies could have been 
taken from them by force too. But the Rasul of Allah ^ *_U JJi took 
these as borrowing - and then, he returned everything so borrowed 
back to them. 

This event taught Muslims an essential lesson - that they should 
maintain perfect justice and show mercy and magnanimity even when 
they are dealing with enemies. 

The third instruction is embedded in what he said while making a 
stopover at Khaifbani Kinanah enroute Hunain. ‘Tomorrow’, he said, 
‘we shall be staying at a place where our enemies, the Quraysh of 
Makkah, had once sat and resolved to excommunicate Muslims!’ The 
hint given here is clear - when Allah Ta'ala has blessed Muslims with 
victory and power, they should not forget about the days of distress in 
the past, so that they remain grateful to Allah under all conditions. It 
will also be recalled that the defeated Hawazin forces had taken refuge 
in the Ta’if fortress from where they were shooting arrows against 
Muslims repeatedly. The Holy Prophet j . Jjl was requested to 
pray for a curse to fall on them. He did not respond to their arrows in 
that manner. He prayed that they be guided to the right path. Being 
mercy for all the worlds, this prayer for his enemies is teaching Mus¬ 
lims the lesson that Muslims, when they fight in a Jihad, do not intend 
to subdue the enemy, instead, their objective is to bring them to guid¬ 
ance. Therefore, making efforts to achieve this objective should not be 
neglected at any time. 

The third verse (27) instructs Muslims that they should not write 
off disbelievers who have been defeated at war because it is likely that 
Allah Ta'ala may give them the ability to embrace Islam and be 
blessed with the light of faith. The Hawazin deputation’s entry into 
the fold of Islam proves it. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 28 


353 


The same deputation from the tribe of Hawazin had requested the 
return of their prisoners and the Holy Prophet ,JL,j aJj. Jll had asked 
the gathering of Companions if they agreed to do that out of their free 
will. The response came in the form of voiced ayes from the audience. 
The Holy Prophet (JLy *0* *lJI Jl* did not consider it to be sufficient. In¬ 
stead, he took elaborate steps to ascertain the approval of each and 
every individual before he would act. 

This proves that the matter of rights is serious. It is not 
permissible to take what belongs to a person as a matter of right 
unless it becomes certain that this was done on the basis of his or her 
free will. The silence of a person either due to the awe of the crowd or 
the sense of shame before people is not a sufficient proof of the 
person’s free will and heart-felt consent. From here, Muslim jurists 
have deduced the ruling that it is not correct to solicit contributions 
even for some religious purpose when it is done to impress a person by 
one’s personal office, power, or influence. The reason is that there are 
many gentle people who would be affected by such conditions around 
and decide to get away by giving something just to avoid being 
embarrassed - of course, this does not have the backing of genuine 
free will, approval and pleasure. Incidentally, what is given in that 
spirit does not have any barakah either. 


Verse 28 



O those who believe, the Mushriks* are impure indeed, 
so let them not come near Al-masjid-al-haram after this 
year of theirs. And if you apprehend poverty, then, Al¬ 
lah shall, if He wills, make you self-sufficient with His 
grace. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. [28] 


Commentary 

A proclamation of withdrawal was made against Mushriks and dis¬ 
believers at the beginning of Surah Al-Taubah. The verse appearing 


*. Those who associate partners with Allah. 




Surah AI-Taubah : 9 : 28 


354 


above describes injunctions related to this proclamation. In substance, 
it stipulated that treaties with disbelievers should be terminated or 
fulfilled within a year and after the passage of one year from this proc¬ 
lamation, no Mushrik should remain within the sacred precincts of the 
Haram. 

This has been stated in the present verse in a particular manner 
that accomplishes two objectives simultaneously. It points out to the 
wisdom behind this injunction and it also alleviates the apprehensions 
of some Muslims about its implementation. Here, the word: ^ ( najas ) 
has been used with fathah on the letter jim which carries the sense of 
filth and filth denotes every impurity which one averts naturally. 
Imam Raghib al-Isfahani has said: It also includes impurity that is per¬ 
ceived through the senses, such as the eye, the nose or the hand as 
well as that which one is able to know about through knowledge and 
reason. Therefore, the word: ‘najas’ is inclusive of filth or impurity of 
three types. The first one is real. "Everyone perceives it as such. Then, 
there is the second type. This is known as legal because it makes wudu 
(ablution) or ghusl (bath) legally necessary. Examples are the state of 
Janabah (intercourse, ejaculation, wet-dream etc.), as well as, the 
post-menstruation and post-childbed states known as haid and nifas. 
And then, there is the spiritual impurity that relates to the human 
heart, for example, false beliefs and evil morals. The word ‘najas’ cov¬ 
ers all of these. 

The word, Ul ( innama ) introduced in this verse has been used for 
hasr or restriction. Therefore, the sentence comes to mean that Mush- 
riks (those who ascribe partners to Allah) are impure indeed (in the 
sense of ‘are but filth’). The truth of the matter is that all three types 
of impurities are found in Mushriks because they just do not take a lot 
of impure things as really impure. The outcome is that they do not 
make any effort to stay away from smearing themselves with obvious 
impurities - such as, liquor and things made with it. As for the modal¬ 
ities of purification against acquired impurities provided by religious 
codes - such as, the prescribed bath after having fallen into the state 
of Janabah - they simply do not believe in them! Similarly, spiritual 
impurities like false beliefs and evil morals do not make much sense to 
them. 

Therefore, by declaring Mushriks to be impure in this verse, the in- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 28 


355 


junction given was: lii J^ll I J.Jf’jS (so let them not come near 

Al-masjid-al-haram after this year of theirs). 

The word: Al-masjid-al-haram is generally used to denote the place 
that is surrounded by a walled structure around the Baytullah. But, in 
the Qur’an and Hadith, this word, at times, has been used for the sa¬ 
cred precincts of the entire Haram of Makkah as well - which is an 
area of several square miles and is hemmed in by limits originally ap¬ 
pointed by Sayyidna Ibrahim r ^LJl <As.. It is in this very sense that words 
of the text of the Qur’an referring to the event of Mi‘raj: r VjL\ x*22,\ ^ 
(from Al-masjid-al-haram - 18:1) have been taken. This interpretation 
has the backing of a consensus because the event of Mi‘raj did not orig¬ 
inate from inside what is commonly known as Al-masjid-al-haram, in¬ 
stead of which, it started from the home of Sayyidah Umm Hani’ Jill 

Similarly, in the noble verse: jjkHi Jl % (Except those 

with whom you made a treaty near Al-masjid-al-haram - 9:7), Al- 
masjid-al-haram means the whole of Haram — because, the event of 
making a peace treaty mentioned there took place at Hudaibiyah, 
which is located outside the limits of the Haram close by. (Al-Jassas) 

Therefore, the verse comes to mean that the entry of the Mushriks 
into the sacred precincts of the Haram shall be banned after ‘this’ 
year. Which year is ‘this’ year? Some commentators say that it means 
the Hijrah year 10. But, according to the majority of commentators, 
the preferred year is Hijrah 9 - because, the Holy Prophet ^ *JLc Jjl 
had made the ‘proclamation of withdrawal’ through Sayyidna Abu 
Bakr and Sayyidna Ali *L)l during the Hajj season of this very 
Hijrah year 9. Therefore, the period between Hijrah 9 and Hijrah 10 is 
the year of respite. It was only after Hijrah 10 that this law came into 
force. 

Does the rule stop Mushriks from entering the Sacred Mosque 
only, or does it apply to all mosques? 

About the injunction appearing in the cited verse: that no Mushrik 
should be allowed to come near Al-masjid-al-haram (the Sacred 
Mosque) after Hijrah 10, three things need consideration. Firstly, we 
have to determine if this injunction is particular to the Sacred Mosque, 
or other mosques of the world also fall under its jurisdiction. Secondly, 
if this is particular to the Sacred Mosque, then, is the entry of a Mush¬ 
rik in the Sacred Mosque banned in an absolute sense? Or the ban of 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 28 


356 


such entry applies only in the case of Hajj and ‘Umrah - not otherwise. 
Thirdly, this injunction appearing in the verse relates to Mushriks. In 
that case, are the disbelievers ( kuffar ) among the People of the Book 
included here, or are they not? 

Since the words of the Qur’an are silent about these details, there¬ 
fore, the Mujtahid Imams have, by turning to the hints of the Qur’an 
and the reports of Hadith, given a description of injunctions in accor¬ 
dance with their respective Ijtihad. The first investigation in this con¬ 
nection is about the terms of reference in which the Holy Qur’an has 
declared Mushriks as ‘najas’ (filth). If this means physical filth or some 
major legal impurity (janabah etc.), then, as evident, allowing the en¬ 
try of filth in any masjid is not permissible. Similarly, allowing any 
person in the state of major impurity or a woman in the state of men¬ 
struation or childbed in any masjid is not permissible. And if ‘ najasah ’ 
in this verse means the spiritual filthiness of kufr and shirk, then, it is 
possible that the injunction which covers it may be different from the 
injunction which covers outward filth. 

According to Tafsir Al-Qurtubi, Imam Malik and other jurists of 
Madinah, may Allah have mercy on them, said: Mushriks are filthy on 
all counts. They generally do not abstain from obvious filth, are not 
very particular about taking a bath after having fallen into the state of 
major impurity and, as for the spiritual impurity of kufr and shirk, 
they already suffer from it. Therefore, this injunction is equally appli¬ 
cable to all Mushriks and mosques. To prove this, they have cited an 
executive order given by Sayyidna ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz * 1 * *1(1 in 
which he had instructed the administrators of cities that they should 
not allow disbelievers to enter mosques. He had quoted this very verse 
as part of his executive order. In addition to that, there is a Hadith of 
the Holy Prophet Ju, *_ic *1)1 in which he said: j jaj LL J>f *J (I 

do not make entry into the masjid lawful for any woman in menstrua¬ 
tion or for any person in the state of major impurity) - and since the 
Mushriks and disbelievers do not generally take a bath when in a 
state of janabah, their entry into the masjid has been prohibited. 

Imam Shafi‘i has said that this injunction is applicable to all Mush¬ 
riks and disbelievers among the People of the Book - but, is restricted 
to the Sacred Mosque. Their entry into other mosques is not prohibit¬ 
ed. (QurtubI) In proof, he has cited the event relating to Thumamah ibn 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 28 


357 


Athal, according to which Thumamah was arrested. The Holy Prophet 
jJl-j *Jlc Jai JL* had him tied to a pillar of his Mosque before he embraced 
Islam. 

According to Imam Abu Hanifah, not letting Mushriks come near 
the Sacred Mosque as commanded in the verse means that they will 
not be allowed to perform Hajj and ‘Umrah in their peculiar polytheis¬ 
tic manner from the next year. Its proof lies in the proclamation of 
withdrawal which was made through Sayyidna Ali al-Murtada Jjl 
-at at the time of the Hajj season. This proclamation made was for 
nothing but: il)I which made it very clear that no Mushrik 

will be able to perform Hajj after that year. Therefore, the meaning of 

> 9 } S S 

the statement: ^Ijll (so let them not come near Al-masjid-al- 

haram) in this verse is - in accordance with this proclamation - noth¬ 
ing but that they have been prohibited to perform Hajj and ‘Umrah, 
with the exception of entering there on the basis of a particular need 
which would be subject to the permission of the Muslim ’Amir. This is 
proved by what happened in the case of the deputation from the tribe 
of Thaqif. When, after the Conquest of Makkah, their deputation came 
to the Holy Prophet -Jlc *1)1 he let them stay in the masjid, al¬ 
though they were kafirs at that time. Thereupon, the Companions sub¬ 
mitted: ‘Ya Rasulallah, these are filthy people!’ He said: ‘The floor of 
the masjid is not affected by their impurity.’ (Jassas) 

This report from Hadith also makes it very clear that the Holy 
Qur’an, when it calls Mushriks ‘ najas ’ (filth), it refers to the filth of 
their kufr and shirk - as interpreted by the great Imam Abu Hanifah. 
Similarly, according to a narration of the Companion, Sayyidna Jabir 
ibn ‘Abdullah *L)I the Holy Prophet (J-j *1)1 said that no 
Mushrik should go near the Masjid except that the person be a bond- 
man or bondwoman of a Muslim - then, he could be admitted if need¬ 
ed. (Qurtubi) 

This Hadith too confirms that the Mushriks were not prevented 
from entering into the Sacred Mosque on the basis of their outward 
impurity as the cause - otherwise, there was nothing particular about 
a bondman or bondwoman. In fact, the real basis is the danger of kufr 
and shirk lest these come to dominate. In the case of a bondman or 
bondwoman, this danger does not exist. So, they were allowed. In addi¬ 
tion to that, as far as outward impurity is concerned, even Muslims 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 28 


358 


stand included under this restriction for they too, if in a state of full 
impurity {janabah or haid or nifas), are not allowed to enter the Sacred 
Mosque. 

Besides, when according to the explanation given by the majority 
of commentators, Al-masjid-al-haram at this place means the entire 
Haram, then, that too lends support to the view that this prohibition is 
not based on outward impurity, instead, it is based on the impurity of 
kufr and shirk. It is for this reason that their entry was banned not 
simply in the Sacred Mosque, in fact, it was banned in the entire area 
known as the Haram. This was done because the Haram is the sanctu¬ 
ary and fortress of Islam and having some non-Muslim inside it cannot 
be tolerated. 

To sum up the investigative approach of the great Imam Abu Hani- 
fah, it can be said that the concern for maintaining masajid in a state 
of perfect purity, free from all sorts of outward and inward pollution, is 
an issue of major importance having its proof from the Qur’an and Ha- 
dith. But, this verse is not connected with this problem. It is, in fact, 
connected with the particular political order of Islam that was an¬ 
nounced at the beginning of Surah Al-Bara’ah and wherein the pur¬ 
pose was to have the sacred Haram vacated by all Mushriks present in 
Makkah. But, such was the dictate of justice and mercy that all of 
them were not ordered to vacate immediately and en-block soon after 
the Conquest of Makkah. Instead of that, the plan was to be imple¬ 
mented within the time-span of one year by allowing people who had a 
treaty for a specified period to complete that period subject to its sol¬ 
emn fulfillment and by giving others available periods of respite. This 
is what was stated in the verse under study - that the entry of Mush¬ 
riks will stand prohibited within the sacred precincts of the Haram af¬ 
ter that year and they would no more be able to perform Hajj and 
‘Umrah in their polytheistic style. 

After it was clearly stated in the 'ay at of Surah Al-Taubah that no 
Mushrik would be able to enter the sacred precincts of the Haram af¬ 
ter Hijrah 9, the Holy Prophet JLy *1)1 had increased this injunc¬ 
tion to cover the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. Hadith reports con¬ 
firm it but its implementation could not take effect during the lifetime 
of the Holy Prophet jjLy *-U *1)1 Jl*. Then, Sayyidna Abu Bakr *_* *1)1 
remained unable to attend to it because of other emergent problems on 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 28 


359 


hand. It was Sayyidna ‘Umar *u. *1)1 ^ who, during his period, put this 
legal order in force. 

As for the problem of the impurity of disbelievers and the problem 
of keeping masajid secured from impurities of all kinds, that has its 
own place. These problems and their solutions have been taken up in 
books of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Details can be seen there. In 
brief, no Muslim can enter any masjid in the state of najasah or jana- 
bah. As for disbelievers and Mushriks or the People of the Book, they 
too are not generally free and duly purified from these impurities, 
therefore, their entry too is not permissible in any masjid, unless need¬ 
ed acutely. 

When, according to this verse, the entry of Kafirs and Mushriks 
into the Haram was banned, Muslims had to face an economic prob¬ 
lem. Makkah had no produce of its own. Visitors from far and near 
brought the needed supplies with them. Thus, during the Hajj season, 
the people of Makkah found what they needed available locally. Now 
that their entry was banned, the Makkans worried, how things would 
work for them. In response, they were told in the Qur’an: *i 4* r4 oJj 

if you apprehend poverty, then, Allah shall, if 
He wills, make you self-sufficient with His grace). In other words, the 
sense is: if you foresee any economic hardships, then, you must realize 
that the economic support of the entire creation rests with Allah 
Almighty. If He wills, He shall make you self-sufficient, free from any 
dependence on all those kafirs. Incidentally, the restriction of ‘if He 
wills’ placed here does not mean that there is any doubt or hesitation 
in carrying out the Divine will. On the contrary, this is to point out 
that those who have their sights trained on nothing but material 
causes find it very difficult to understand and accept a situation like 
this. Here, the ground reality was that these non-Muslims were the 
apparent source of all economic support. Putting a ban on the entry of 
disbelievers amounted to nothing but a termination of the means of 
livelihood for believers. So, this restriction was placed to remove any 
such doubts and apprehensions. The strong message given to them 
was that Allah Ta'ala does not depend on material causes as such. 
When He intends to do something, all related causes start falling in 
line with His will. So, His will is what matters - the rest follows. 
Hence, 'Xsha ’) at the end of the sentence serves as a wise 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 .29 - 30 


360 


indicator of this truth. 


Verses 29 - 30 



Fight those who neither believe in Allah nor in the Last 
Day, nor take as prohibited what Allah and His 
Messenger have prohibited, nor submit to the Faith of 
Truth - of those who were given the Book - until they 
pay jizyah with their own hands while they are 
humbled. [29] 


And the Jews said, ‘“Uzair (Ezra) is the Son of Allah” 
and the Christians said, “Maslh (the Christ) is the Son 
of Allah.” That is their saying (invented) by their 
mouths. They resemble the earlier disbelievers in their 
saying. Be they killed by Allah, how far turned away 
they are! [30] 


Commentary 

Verse 28 appearing earlier referred to Jihad against the Mushirks 
of Makkah. The present verses talk about Jihad against the People of 
the Book. In a sense, this is a prelude to the battle of Tabuk that was 
fought against the People of the Book. In Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthur, it 
has been reported from the Qur’an commentator, Mujahid that these 
verses have been revealed about the battle of Tabuk. Then, there is the 
reference to ‘those who were given the Book.’ In Islamic religious ter¬ 
minology, they are referred to as ‘ahl al-Kitab’ or People of the Book. In 
its literal sense, it covers every disbelieving group of people who be¬ 
lieve in a Scripture but, in the terminology of the Holy Qur’an, this 
term is used for Jews and Christians only - because, only these two 
groups from the People of the Book were well-known in and around 
Arabia. Therefore, addressing the Mushriks of Arabia, the Holy Qur’an 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 29 - 30 


361 


has said: 



lest you should say, “The Book was sent down only upon two 
groups before us, and we were ignorant of what they studied.” 
-6:156 


As for the injunction of Jihad against the People of the Book given 
in verse 29, it is really not particular to the People of the Book. The 
fact is that this very injunction applies to all disbelieving groups - 
because, the reasons for the injunction to fight mentioned next are 
common to all disbelievers. If so, the injunction has to be common too. 
But, the People of the Book were mentioned here particularly to serve 
a purpose. Since, it was possible that Muslims may hesitate to fight 
against them on the ground that they too are believers in a certain 
degree, believers in Torah and Injil, and in Sayyidna Musa and ‘Isa, 
f5LJl p-fJLt may peace be upon them both. So, it was possible that their 
connection with past prophets and their Books may become a factor in 
dissuading them from Jihad. Therefore, fighting with them was 
mentioned particularly. 

There is yet another element of coherence at this place. This par¬ 
ticularization of the People of the Book in the verse is also releasing a 
hint that, in a certain way, these people are deserving of greater pun¬ 
ishment. The reasons were simple. They were people with knowledge. 
They had the knowledge of Torah and Injil. These Scriptures referred 
to the Last among prophets, Sayyidna Muhammad al-Mustafa Jji 
pLjiJ lc, giving his blessed identity in details. They knew all this, yet 
elected to reject the truth and went on to mount conspiracies against 
Islam and Muslims. When they did what they did, their crime became 
much more serious. That explains why fighting against them was 
mentioned particularly. 

The injunction to fight spells out four reasons in this verse: 

1 . *I)L : They do not believe in Allah. 

2. .jpl 'ij : They do not believe in the Hereafter. 

3. ^1 fell : They do not take as prohibited what Allah and His 

Messenger have prohibited. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 29 - 30 


362 


4. ^Si'^30 : They do not submit to the Faith of Truth. 

This raises a doubt. Is it not that the People of the Book, that is, 
the Jews and Christians, obviously believe in Allah - and in Hereafter 
and a Last Day too? Why, then, their faith (’Iman) in these things has 
been negated? The reason is that mere words of faith are hardly suffi¬ 
cient to prove one's actual belief in it. Not having the kind of faith de¬ 
sirable in the sight of Allah would amount to having no faith at all. Of 
course, the Jews and Christians did not openly reject the belief in 
Tauhid, that is, oneness of Allah or pure monotheism. But, as says the 
next verse, the Jews took Sayyidna ‘Uzayr r ^LJl *Jlc and the Christians 
took Sayyidna Tsa r ^LJl *_U to be the sons of God and thereby assigned 
to them partnership in His divinity. Therefore, their confession of pure 
monotheism became ineffectual and any claim to faith, false. 

Similarly, the kind of faith desirable in the Hereafter was some¬ 
thing not to be found with the People of the Book. Many of them went 
by the belief that, on the Last Day (the Qiyamah) there will be no re¬ 
turn to life in body forms they had in the mortal world. Instead, it will 
be a kind of spiritual life. As for Paradise and Hell, they did not con¬ 
sider them to be any particular places. Spirit when happy was Para¬ 
dise and spirit when gloomy was Hell. Since all this is patently con¬ 
trary to what Allah says, therefore, even their faith in the Last Day 
too turns out to be no faith in real terms. 

The third thing - that these people do not take, what Allah has de¬ 
clared to be unlawful, as unlawful - means that they do not believe in 
the unlawfulness of many things prohibited by Torah or Injil - for ex¬ 
ample, riba (interest). Similarly, there were many edibles prohibited in 
Torah and Injil. They just did not consider these unlawful and in¬ 
dulged in them freely. 

This tells us about a religious rule of conduct. According to this 
rule, taking anything declared unlawful by Allah Ta‘ala as lawful is 
not simply the commitment of a sin, in fact, it is kufr, a flat rejection of 
the faith itself. Similarly, taking something lawful to be unlawful is 
also kufr. However, should someone inadvertently fall short in practice 
while still taking the unlawful as unlawful, then, that would be sin, 
not kufr. 

Since all wars must end, a limit and end of the action of fighting 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 29 - 30 


363 


against those people has also been set forth in this verse where it has 
been said: ft JjZ Zsjll (until they pay jizyah with their own 

hands while they are humbled). 

Literally, jizyah means return or recompense. In the terminology of 
the SharPah, it refers to the amount of money taken from disbelievers 
in lieu of killing. 

The reason is that kufr and shirk are rebellion against Allah and 
Rasul. Killing is the real punishment for it. But, Allah Ta'ala has, in 
His perfect mercy, reduced their punishment by giving them an option. 
The option is that, should they agree to live as subjects of the Islamic 
state under the general Islamic legal framework, they may be allowed 
to remain there against the payment of a nominal amount of jizyah. 
Since, they would be living there as citizens of a Muslim state, the pro¬ 
tection of their life, property and honor will be the responsibility of the 
Islamic government and no hindrance will be placed in the observance 
of their religious duties. The amount thus taken is called jizyah. 

Should jizyah be fixed by mutual conciliation and agreement, there 
is no prescribed limit imposed by the SharPah. It accepts the amount 
and thing for which a mutual peace treaty is arrived at - as was done 
by the Holy Prophet |JL.j *JLc *1)1 with the people of Najran. A peace 
pact was concluded between him and the whole group of these people. 
They agreed to give him two thousand hullahs annually. A hullah is a 
pair of clothes. It could be a waist wrap for the lower part of the body 
with a top sheet wrap, or a long, loose shirt or cloak. Even the estimat¬ 
ed monetary worth of every hullah was pre-determined. The value of 
each hullah was supposed to be one ’Uqiyah of silver. An ’Uqiyah is 
equal to approximately 122.472* grams of silver, according to our 
weights. 

A similar agreement was reached between Sayyidna ‘Umar *1)1 
nc. and the Christians of Bani Taghlib which stipulated that the jizyah 
on them be levied at the rate of Islamic Zakah — but, twice the Zakah. 

Furthermore, in the event Muslims conquered a certain land 
through war, then allowed the properties of its residents to remain un¬ 
der their ownership and possession, and they too agreed to continue 


1. Awzan-i-Shar‘iyyah, Hadrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi. 





Surah Al-Taubah ; 9 : 29 - 30 


364 


living there as law-abiding citizens, a jizyah was levied on them. The 
rate of jizyah fixed and implemented by Sayyidna ‘Umar *1)1 dur¬ 
ing the period of his Khilafah was four dirhams from the rich, two dir¬ 
hams from the middle class and only one dirham from the active poor 
who earned by working on wages, or by making or vending things. 
This monthly payment of one dirham was equal to about 3.618 grams* 
of silver or its equivalent amount. According to rules, nothing was to 
be taken from the very poor, disabled or handicapped. Similarly, noth¬ 
ing was to be taken from women, children, aged people and religious 
leaders living in seclusion. 

These were small amounts, yet there were instructions from the 
Holy Prophet (Jl.j *JLt *1)1 that no one should be made to pay more 
than he could afford. If anyone oppressed a non-Muslim, the Holy 
Prophet ,J-.j i-lc. *1)1 himself will support that non-Muslim against his 
oppressor on the day of Qiyamah (Mazhari) 

Reports such as these have led some Muslim jurists to hold the po¬ 
sition that there is no particular rate of jizyah payment as fixed by the 
Shari 1 ah. Instead, this has been left for the ruler of the time to deter¬ 
mine the appropriate action in terms of existing conditions. 

The comments appearing above also make it clear that jizyah is a 
compensation for removing the punishment of killing from disbelievers 
- not a substitute for Islam. Therefore, there is no justification for 
doubting as to why were they given the permission to keep staying on 
their policy of aversion from and denial of Islam for a paltry price. The 
proof is that permission is given to many other people also who live in 
an Islamic country with the freedom to keep observing the percepts of 
their religion. Jizyah is not taken from them - for example, women, 
children, the aged, religious leaders, the disabled and the handi¬ 
capped. Had jizyah been taken in lieu of Islam, it should have been 
taken from these as well. 

It should be noted that the paying of jizyah in this verse has been 
qualified with the words: :‘with their own hands.’ Here, the first 

word: ^ (‘an: with) denotes cause, and ju (yad: hands) signifies power 
and subjugation. It means that the payment of this jizyah should not 


1. Awzan-i-Shar‘iyyah, Hadrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shaft. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 29 - 30 


365 


be in the spirit of some voluntary contribution or charity. Instead of 
that, it has to be in the spirit of recognition and acceptance of Islamic 
victory and of the willingness to live under it. (As in Ruh al-Ma‘am) As for 
the later part of the sentence: (while they are humbled), it 

means, according to the explanation given by Imam Shaffi *1)1 
that they should subscribe to the common law of Islam and take the 
responsibility of remaining obedient to it. (Ruh al-Ma‘anI and Mazhari) 

Regarding the instruction given in this verse that once these peo¬ 
ple have agreed to pay jizyah, fighting should be stopped, a little expla¬ 
nation may be useful. According to the majority of Muslim jurists, it 
includes all disbelievers - whether from the People of the Book or from 
those other than them. However, the Mushriks of Arabia stand exclud¬ 
ed from it for jizyah was not accepted from them. 


In the second verse (30), the subject taken up briefly in verse 29 
(where it was said that these people do not believe in Allah) has been 
enlarged. In the second verse, it has been said that the Jews take 
Sayyidna ‘Uzayr to be the Son of God. 1 So do the Christians. 

They say that Sayyidna ‘Isa f lJI *JLc is the Son of God. Therefore, their 
claim that Allah is One and that they have faith turns out to be false. 

After that, it was said: <*ui. (That is their saying [invented] 

by their mouths). This could also mean that these people profess it 
openly and clearly through their own tongues. There is nothing secret 
about it. Then, it could also mean that this blasphemy they utter re¬ 
mains the work of their tongues. They can give no reason or justifica¬ 
tion for it. 


Finally, it was said: Jii \’/j£ ^JJJI (They re¬ 

semble the earlier disbelievers in their saying. Be they killed by Allah, 
how far turned away they are!). It means that the Jews and Chris¬ 
tians, by calling prophets sons of Allah, became the same as disbeliev¬ 
ers and Mushriks of past ages, for they used to say that the angels, 
and their idols, L>at and Manat, were daughters of God. 


1. This is not the belief of all the Jews; it was the belief of some Jews of the 
Arabia. Now, the Dead Sea Scrolls have also proved the fact that some 
Jewish sects believed Ezra to be the son of God. It is learnt from some 
scholars who have studied the Scrolls. ^Ul *l)!j (Muhammad Taqi Usmani) 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 31 - 35 


366 


Verses 31 - 35 

s? ill op Cri 

>jj VISL3I V tlijlJ tyl ijjLpLJ VI ijjuf LSJ 

UJI IP IpiiJL: oT SA;/ <n>^ 

*jp VJ,iUI pCS 

Ji i&kl 4 ^i 43 ; ife> c^ji 5^ 

Si iji^jjl «rr> 'Jrjil ;/Pj '# ;0\ 
Ji?r sily 4143111 ^vi -p; p? 
ik)i/4»^i 5ji4? St&^i p-c & sjiiij- 

*_P 0 ujliij ^fcjp*3 Vjjl |_i™- li : .; *>lj 

fiijPj % cpoo f-&P Sri CpC J**i 

'o£s 3 pia pjPpJjypp 12 ili 


They have taken their rabbis and their monks as gods 
beside Allah, and also (they have taken) Maslh the son 
of Maryam (as god). And they were not commanded but 
to worship only One God. There is no god but He. Pure 
is He from what they associate with Him. [31] 

They want to blow out the Light of Allah with their 
mouths, and Allah rejects everything short of making 
His light perfect, no matter how the disbelievers may 
hate it. [32] 

He is the One who has sent down His Messenger with 
guidance and the Faith of Truth, so that He makes it 
prevail over every faith, no matter how the associators 
may hate it. [33] 

O those who believe, many of the rabbis and the monks 
do eat up the wealth of the people by false means and 
prevent (them) from the way of Allah. As for those who 
accumulate gold and silver and do not spend it in the 
way of Allah, give them the ‘good’ news of a painful 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 31 - 35 


367 


punishment, [34] on the day it will be heated up in the 
fire of Jahannam, then their foreheads and their sides 
and their backs shall be branded with it: “This is what 
you had accumulated for yourselves. So, taste what you 
have been accumulating." [35] 

Commentary 

The four verses cited above mention how astray the learned and 
the devoted and the abstaining among the Jews and Christians had 
gone and what blasphemies of word and deed they had come up with. 
The word: jL»l ( ahbar ) is the plural form of ( hibr ) and jU, ( ruhban) 
is the plural of ( rahib ). Hibr refers to a religious scholar among the 
Jews and Christians while a rahib denotes someone who devotes to 
worship and abstains from a worldly role in life. 

In the first verse (31), it has been said that these people have taken 
their rabbis and monks as gods beside Allah and they have done the 
same with Sayyidna ‘Isa ibn Maryam whom they have given 

the status of their Lord. This is, of course, obvious in the case of Sayy¬ 
idna ‘Isa fXJI whom they took to be the son of God and did not de¬ 
mur from saying so. As for the charge against them that they had tak¬ 
en their rabbis and monks as gods, it has its reason. They used to call 
them as their Lord in clear terms, but even if it is presumed that they 
did not believe their religious leaders to be their gods, they had 
virtually transferred to them the right to be obeyed which is the right 
of Allah Jalla Thana’uh , absolutely and exclusively. They would, so to 
say, follow the dictates of these leaders under all circumstance - even 
if their dictates happen to be against Allah and His Messenger. With 
that attitude, one is bound to land in a valley of no return. How can 
one go about obeying someone even if that person says things contrary 
to the dictates of Allah and His Messenger? And how can one who has 
reached this ultimate limit still not refuse to obey that person? This is 
like taking someone as god - an act of flagrant blasphemy, an open 
kufr. 

This tells us that the present verse is not related in any way to the 
popular religious issue of following a particular juristic school ( taqlid ) 
which has two main aspects. Firstly, common people who are not 
aware of religious precepts and their details trust ‘Ulama’ and follow 
their fatawa. Secondly, Mujtahid Imams are followed in juristic issues 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 31 - 35 


368 


requiring Ijtihad. So, this verse has no bearing on that count because 
such following is, in real terms, nothing but the following of the dic¬ 
tates of Allah and His Rasul jJl-, *ju *1)1 Those whom Allah has 
blessed with knowledge and insight have a direct access to the original 
resources of Shari‘ah whereby they know what Allah and His Rasul 
have said. They see it and act accordingly. The unaware masses act in 
accordance with the same injunctions by asking those who have 
knowledge. Then, there are those who have knowledge but are not 
competent enough to occupy the station of Ijtihad, they too follow the 
Mujtahid Imams in matters requiring ijtihad. This following is in ac¬ 
cordance with the injunction of the Holy Qur’an and is nothing but 


obedience to Allah Ta‘ala - as says the Qur’an: SlJ’Zi It 


means: ‘If you yourself are not aware of the injunctions of Allah and 
the Messenger, act by asking the people of knowledge - 16:4s.’ 1 


In sum, the masses of people among the Jews and Christians had 
ignored Scriptures, Divine commandments and the teachings of apos¬ 
tles totally and, in its place, they had taken the word and deed of self- 
serving scholars and ignorant pseudo-devotees as the core of their re¬ 
ligion. This is what has been condemned in the verse. 


Then, it was said that these people chose to take the way of error 
although they were asked by Allah to worship only one God who is free 
and pure from what they associated with Him. This verse limits itself 
to saying that they followed the false and obeyed people other than Al¬ 
lah, something they were not permitted to do. In the verse that follows 
(32), mentioned there is another error they make. It is said that they do 
not stop at the error they have already made. They, rather, like to 
compound their errors when they try to subvert Divine guidance and 


1. The basic point of difference is that the one who follows an imam does not 
believe him to be an independent point of obedience. lie simply consults 
him as an interpreter of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. That is why he will 
not follow him if there is a clear clash between his view and a clear-cut 
ruling given by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. The case of Jews and 
Christians is totally different. They believe their religious leaders (rabbis 
and popes) as law-givers. They believe them to be infallible who cannot 
commit mistakes and their rulings are to be obeyed in any case, even 
though they contradict the ruling given by the scriptures. For more 
details on the subject, see my book on 'Taqlid' or on Uloom al-Qur’an.' 
(Muhammad Taqi Usman!) 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 31 - 35 


369 


black out the Faith of Truth. The statement has been dressed in a si¬ 
militude - ‘they want to blow out the Light of Allah with their mouths’ 
- although, this is something they cannot do. Allah Ta'ala has already 
decided that He shall see to it that His Light, that is, the Religion of 
Islam, reaches its perfection, no matter how displeasing this may turn 
out to be for those who disbelieve. 

After that, the same subject has been further stressed in the third 
verse (33) by saying that Allah Ta'ala has sent His Messenger with 
guidance, that is, the Qur’an, and with the Faith of Truth, that is, Is¬ 
lam, in order to have it prevail over all other faiths. Appearing in al¬ 
most the same words, there are several other verses of the Holy Qur’an 
promising that the religion of Islam shall be made to prevail over all 
other faiths of the world. 

This glad tiding regarding the ascendancy of Islam is, as in Tafsir 
Mazhari, for most times and circumstances. In a Hadith from Sayydina 
Miqdad the Holy Prophet s. -1)1 Ju* said: No mud or mor¬ 

tar home shall remain on the face of the earth where the word of Islam 
has not entered with the honor of the honored and the disgrace of the 
disgraced. Whoever Allah blesses with honor shall embrace Islam and 
whoever is to face disgrace shall not, though, accept Islam but shall 
become a subject of the Islamic government. This promise of Allah 
Ta'ala was fulfilled. For about a thousand years, the primacy of Islam 
remained operative throughout the world. 

How this Light of Allah reached its perfection during the blessed 
period of the Holy Prophet jJL-j aJj. Jjl and the most righteous and 
worthy elders of the Muslim Community is a spectacle the world has 
already witnessed. Then, in future too, in terms of its legitimacy and 
truth for all times to come, the religion of Islam is a perfect religion no 
sensible person would elect to criticize. For this reason, this Faith of 
Truth, in terms of its arguments and proofs, has always been power¬ 
ful. And, should Muslims follow this religion fully and faithfully, out¬ 
ward ascendancy, power and governance also turn out to be its inevita¬ 
ble results. As proved by the annals of the history of Islam, whenever 
Muslims acted whole-heartedly in accordance with the Qur’an and 
Sunnah, no impediment in their way could defeat their determination 
and their presence was felt all over the world as a dominant force. And 
whenever and wherever they have reached the limits of being subju- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 31 - 35 


370 


gated or oppressed, it was but the evil consequence of heedlessness to 
and contravention of the injunctions of Qur’an and Sunnah which 
came before them. As for the Religion of Truth, it stood its grounds as 
always, august and protected. 

In the fourth verse (34), the address is to Muslims but the subject 
taken up concerns the conduct of rabbis and monks among the Jews 
and Christians, a conduct which led common people astray. Perhaps, 
the address to Muslims indicates a purpose behind the description of 
the conduct of Jewish rabbis and Christian monks. The purpose is to 
warn them as well in order that they too remain alert against such 
conditions prevailing among Muslims. 

The verse states that many rabbis and monks among the Jews and 
Christians eat up the wealth of the people by false means and prevent 
(them) from the way of Allah. 

Most rabbis and monks among the Jews and Christians were in¬ 
volved in this practice - and under such conditions, people generally 
tend to make a sweeping statement and call everyone bad. But, at this 
place, the Holy Qur’an, by adding the word: I ^ ( kathira : many), has 
prompted Muslims to mind their words even when dealing with ene¬ 
mies. It was clearly demonstrated here by not attributing the practice 
to all of them. Instead, what was said here was that many of them do 
so. Then, it was said that they were not doing the right thing when 
they eat up the wealth of people by false means. ‘False means’ refers to 
their practice of giving fatwa (religious edict or ruling) counter to the 
injunction of Torah, for money. In doing so, on occasions, they would 
misinterpret Divine injunctions through concealment and falsification. 
Further on from here, yet another error of their conduct was pointed 
out by saying that they were unfortunate people who, not only that 
they themselves had gone astray but were also ready to prevent others 
from seeking the way of Allah in the hope of finding right guidance. 
The reason is that people, when they see their leaders doing things 
like that, the inherent love for truth in them dies out. In addition to 
that, when they start basing their conduct on such false rulings, they 
end up taking that error and waywardness to be as good as correct. 

Since this disease among the rabbis and monks of the Jews and 
Christians - that they give false rulings for money - showed up be¬ 
cause of worldly greed and love for money, the verse takes up the sub- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 31 - 35 


371 


ject in its own way. It says that excess in love for money and property 
produces bad results, even punishment if not spent in the way of Al¬ 
lah, and suggests how to get rid of this disease. The exact words of the 
text are: 



As for those who accumulate gold and silver and do not spend 
it in the way of Allah, give them the ‘good’ news of a painful 
punishment. 

The words: YJ (and do not spend it) indicate that people who 

spend in the way of Allah as necessary, for them the rest of their accu¬ 
mulated wealth brings no harm. 


In Hadith too, the Holy Prophet ,JUj JjljU has said: Wealth for 
which Zakah has been paid is not included under: ( kanaztum : you 
have accumulated). (Abu Dawud, Ahmad and others) 


This tells us that keeping wealth which remains after taking out 
Zakah is no sin. 


The majority of Muslim jurists and Imams have taken this ap¬ 
proach. It should be noted that the pronoun in Ljjjio V/ (and do not 
spend it) reverts to ( fiddah ) which means silver. Two things, gold 
and silver, were mentioned immediately earlier but the pronoun was 
made to revert to silver only. Tafsir Mazhari takes it to be a clear indi¬ 
cator of the rule that should a person have a little of both gold and sil¬ 
ver, his threshold ( nisab ) will be determined in terms of silver. His Za¬ 
kah will be paid by calculating the price of gold in terms of the price of 
silver. 


Explained in the fifth verse (35) is the detail of the ‘painful punish¬ 
ment’ referred to at the end of verse 34. There, it has been said: 
oJyJj IjfjlifsJtyfe' Li ill i jS# (on 


the day it will be heated up in the fire of Jahannam, then their fore¬ 
heads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it: “This is 
what you had accumulated for yourselves. So, taste what you have 
been accumulating”. It means that this ‘painful punishment’ will be for 
those who do not pay Zakah. It will come on a day when the gold and 
silver accumulated by them will be heated up in the Fire of Jahannam. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 36 - 37 


372 


Then, their foreheads, sides and backs shall be branded with it, and 
they shall be told, as a sort of verbal punishment, that it was what 
they had accumulated for themselves, and in consequence, they better 
have a taste of what they had accumulated. The return of a deed is the 
deed itself. That which was accumulated illegally or that which was 
accumulated legally but without having paid its Zakah ultimately be¬ 
came, by itself, the punishment of these people. 

In this verse, mention has been made of branding foreheads, sides 
and backs. Either it means the whole body or these three parts have 
been particularized for the reason that a miser who does not like to 
spend his wealth in the way of Allah would usually greet a needy visi¬ 
tor looking for charity or Zakah with a forehead all wrinkled with dis¬ 
taste. After that, when to avoid him, he tries to turn away to the right 
or the left side. And if the needy person still persists, he would turn 
his back on him. Perhaps, the forehead, the sides and the back were 
thus particularized for this punishment. 


Verses 36 - 37 


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Surely, the number of months according to Allah is 
twelve (as written) in the Book of Allah on the day He 
created the heavens and the Earth, of which there are 
Four Sacred Months. That is the right faith. So, do not 
wrong yourself therein. And fight the Mushriks* all to¬ 
gether as they fight you all together, and be sure that 


*. Those who associate partners with Allah. 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 36 - 37 


373 


Allah is with the God-fearing. [36] 

The postponement of the months is nothing but an in¬ 
crease in the infidelity whereby the disbelievers are 
misguided. They allow it one year and disallow it an¬ 
other year, so that they may conform (only) to the num¬ 
ber of what Allah has sanctified, and allow what Allah 
has disallowed. Beautified for them is the evil of their 
deeds. And Allah does not lead the disbelieving people 
to the right path. [37] 

Commentary 

Mentioned in the previous verses were the errors and misdeeds of 
disbelievers and Mushriks who persisted with their disbelief and kept 
associating others in the pristine divinity of Allah. In the present two 
verses, mentioned there is another bad custom prevailing in Arabia 
since its age of ignorance - which Muslims have been instructed to ab¬ 
stain from. That bad custom relates to a chain of happenings. Details 
go back to the distant past since when a year was accepted as having 
twelve months by the religious codes of all past prophets. Out of these 
twelve months, four were considered sacred, therefore, worthy of great 
reverence. They were three consecutive months of Dhu al-Qa‘dah, Dhu 
al-Hijjah, Muharram, and the month of Rajab. 

All religious codes of past prophets agree that every act of worship 
during these four months is more reward-worthy - and should some¬ 
one commit a sin during these months, the curse and punishment re¬ 
sulting from it is also more blameworthy. Under these past religious 
codes, fighting and killing was prohibited during these months. 

Since the Arabs of Makkah al-Mukarramah are the progeny of 
Sayyidna Ibrahim ^LJI *JLt through Sayyidna Isma‘il r ^LJl *Jlc, they all 
professed belief in Sayyidna Ibrahim as a prophet and messenger of Al¬ 
lah and claimed to follow his Shari'ah. However, as fighting, killing 
and hunting was also prohibited during these four sacred months 
among the followers of the Ibrahimi community, the people of the Arab 
age of ignorance found the implementation of this injunction extreme¬ 
ly hard. The reason was that, during the pagan period, fighting and 
killing had become the only vocation for them. Therefore, in order to 
make this restriction somewhat easy on them, they spun out all sorts 
of excuses to satisfy their self-serving motives. Whenever they needed 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 36 - 37 


374 


to fight during one of the sacred months, or whenever a sacred month 
approached while they were already fighting, then, they would say: 
This year, this month is not sacred. The next month will be the sacred 
one. For example, when Muharram arrived, they would say that ‘this 
year, the month of Muharram is not sacred, instead of that, the month 
of Safar will be sacred’. And if they had some other exigency, they 
would say, ‘this year, the month of Rabi‘ al-Awwal will be sacred;’ or 
say, ‘this year the month of Safar has come earlier and Muharram will 
come later.’ Thus, in one stroke, they made the month of Muharram 
the month of Safar! In short, they would somehow complete the count 
of four month during one year, but would not bother to retain the or¬ 
der and signification of what was divinely determined. It was up to 
them to give any name to any month, call it Dhu al-Hijjah or call it 
Ramadan or make one come earlier and make the other come later. If 
another emergency came, for example, when they would remain en¬ 
gaged in fighting for a period as long as ten months leaving only two 
months to the year, then, on this occasion, they would increase the 
number of months in a year saying, ‘this year will be of fourteen 
months.’ In this way, they would make the remaining four months the 
sacred months. 

In short, they did show their reverence for the Ibrahimi faith at 
least by doing it during four months of the year when they would ab¬ 
stain from fighting and killing. But, they did not observe the order of 
the months in a year according to which four of them were fixed as the 
sacred months. This was what they juggled with seeking interpreta¬ 
tions to suit their needs or fancies. 

The outcome was that, during those days, it had become difficult to 
determine as to which month was Ramadan or Shawwal, or Dhu al- 
Qa‘dah, Dhu al-Hijjah or Rajab. When Makkah al-Mukarramah was 
conquered in the 8th year of Hijrah and the Holy Prophet ,Jl_j -l-U *1)1 
sent Sayyidna Abu Bakr Jjl ^> to make the proclamation of with¬ 

drawal from disbelievers and Mushriks at the Hajj season of Hijrah 
year 9, this month was, according to the genuine calculation, the 
month of Dhu al-Hijjah. But, according to the same old custom of the 
Jahiliyyah, this month was declared to be that of Dhu al-Qa‘dah - and, 
that year, according to them, not Dhu al-Hijjah, but Dhu al-Qa‘dah 
was fixed to be the month of Hajj. Then came the Hijrah year 10 which 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 36 - 37 


375 


was the year the Holy Prophet pJLj *JLc JJl went for his last Hajj. As 
nature would have it, this brought about a unique arrangement when 
the genuine month was that of Dhu al-Hijjah and, according to the ar¬ 
bitrary reckoning of the people of Jahiliyyah too, that turned out to be 
Dhu al-Hijjah itself. Therefore, the Holy Prophet ,JL.j *Jlc *1)1 said in 
his address at Mina: ij oJl£)ilJJI ^ jtu-b .u (Time has 

come back to its position Allah had set the day He created the heavens 
and the Earth). It means that the month, the real month of Dhu al- 
Hijjah, turned out to be the same month of Dhu al-Hijjah that year, 
even in the sight of the people of Jahiliyyah. 


This was a window to the custom of Jahiliyyah, a custom that 
changed the number, the order and the specification of months in a 
year, even made deletions and alterations at will. The activity of mak¬ 
ing a few changes here and there may appear to be small and innocu¬ 
ous. A month is a month, call it by any name, it remains a month. But, 
things were not that simple in the given situation. These changes dis¬ 
turbed the implementation of Islamic laws connected with a particular 
month or a specific date in it. They also affected duties fixed for the be¬ 
ginning or the end of the year - such as, the injunctions of Hajj during 
the ten days of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, fasting during the ten days 
of Muharram and the rules of Zakah at the end of the year. As a direct 
result of this practice, hundreds of Islamic laws were distorted making 
their compliance useless. In these two verses of the Holy Qur’an, Mus¬ 
lims have been instructed to remain on guard against the evil in this 
pagan custom. 


Explanation of the Verses t 

In the first verse (36), it is said: l^S jl* UI JJI jL ;Ie ol/Surely, the 
number of months with Allah is twelve). Here, the word: ijs. (‘ iddah ) ap¬ 
pears in the sense of number and ( shuhur ) is the plural of 

(shahr) which means month. The sense of the verse is that the number 
of months, in the sight of Allah, is set as twelve. No one has the right 
to decrease or increase it. 


Then, by placing the phrase: JJlJ^^ifikitabillah: as written in the 
Book of Allah), it was stressed that this numerical setting of the 
months stood recorded in the Preserved Tablet ( al-lawh al-mahfuz) 
since eternity. Then, by saying: (on the day He created 

the heavens and the Earth), it was indicated that the Divine decree 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 36 - 37 


376 


was, though, promulgated in eternity, but this order and setting of the 
months came into being when the heavens and the Earth were 
created. 

After that, it was said: iJujl (of which there are Four Sacred 
Months). It means that, out of these twelve months, four are sacred. 
They have been called : hurum (sanctified ones) in the sense that 
fighting and killing is prohibited during these month, and also in the 
sense that these months are blessed and it is obligatory to hold them 
in due esteem and that acts of worship during these become more re¬ 
ward worthy. The first injunction out of the two was abrogated in the 
Shari'ah of Islam. But, the second one, that of increased reverence, es¬ 
teem and devotion to Tbadah during this period still remains operative 
in Islam. 

In his address 1 of the Day of Sacrifice 2 during the Last Hajj 3 , the 
Holy Prophet -ulc *1)1 explained these months by saying: ‘Three 
months are consecutive - Dhu al-Qa‘dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram - 
and one month is that of Rajab.’ But, there were two sayings of the Ar¬ 
abs regarding the month of Rajab. Some tribes used to call the month 
we know as Ramadan the month of Rajab while, as seen by the tribe of 
Mudar, Rajab was the month which comes in between Jumada ath- 
Thaniah and Sha'ban. Therefore, the Holy Prophet jJ—j *JU *lJI Ju> - by 
mentioning this month as ‘Rajab Mudar’ - also made it clear that it 
means the month of Rajab which is in between Jumada ath-Thaniah 
and Sha‘ban. 

Thereafter appears the statement: flljl pJpl ilui (That is the right 
faith). It means that keeping the setting and serial order of months, 
specially the injunctions pertaining to the Four Sacred Months, ac¬ 
cording to the very original decree of Allah Almighty is the right faith 
to hold. Making any changes, alterations, additions or deletions there¬ 
in is a sign of crookedness in comprehension and temperament. 

The next sentence: IjDk; yj (So, do not wrong yourselves 

therein) means: ‘Do not become unjust to your own selves either by 
acting against the compliance-worthy injunctions pertaining to these 

1. Khutbah. 

2. Yowmu ’n-Nahr, a term used for ‘Idu ’1-Adha, the Feast or Festival of Sacrifice. 

3. Hujjatu ’1-Wada‘. 





Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 36 - 37 


377 


months, or by not observing proper respect for them, or by falling short 
in devoting yourselves to ‘Ibadah therein. 

In his Ahkam al-Qur’an, Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas has said: The 
hint given here is that these blessed months have an exclusive charac¬ 
teristic of their own. Whoever devotes to ‘Ibadah during these is 
awarded with the ability and encouragement to engage in it during the 
rest of the months. Similarly, a person who makes the necessary effort 
to stay safe from sins and other bad deeds during these months finds 
that remaining safe from these evils during the rest of the months of a 
year has become easier on him. Therefore, not making the best out of 
these months is a terrible loss. 

Up to this point, the text has described and refuted a particular 
custom of Jahiliyyah practiced by the Mushriks of Makkah. At the end 
of the verse, the text reverts to the command, given at the beginning of 
the verse (5), requiring that, soon after the expiry of the treaty dead¬ 
line, Jihad is obligatory against all Mushriks and disbelievers. 

The second verse (37) also refers to this very custom of Jahiliyyah 
by saying: J> y ill (-... is nothing but an increase in the infidel¬ 

ity). The word: -JJ: ( nasi ) is a verbal noun that means to move back or 
postpone. It is also used in the sense of that which is delayed 
( mu’akhkhar ). 

By putting these month back and forth, the Mushriks of Arabia 
thought, they would be achieving two things - that it will serve their 
material interests and that it would also give them the credit of com¬ 
plying with the Divine injunction. This approach was not approved by 
Allah Ta'ala for their act of postponing and moving months from where 
they belonged was nothing but an addition to their stance of denial 
which was going to lead them further astray. That they go about de¬ 
claring that a sacred month was not sacred in some year and then be 
ready to name it as sacred in some other year was simply unaccepta¬ 
ble. The sentence: 4b\'£>\Z'>lc lj£t£l),(so that they may conform [only] to 
the number of what Allah has sanctified) following soon after means 
that a mere act of conforming to the given number cannot stand for 
the correct compliance of the injunction. The truth of the matter is 
that the month for which the injunction has been given should be the 
month in which the injunction must be carried out. This is imperative. 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


378 


Injunctions and Rulings 

The verses cited above prove that the order of months and the 
names by which they are known in Islam should not be taken as terms 
coined by human beings. In fact, the day the Lord of all the worlds 
created the heavens and the Earth, He had also settled this order and 
these names and, along with it, particular injunctions to be carried out 
during particular months. From here, we also come to know that, in all 
Islamic legal injunctions, only lunar months are credible in the sight of 
Allah Ta’ala. In other words, all injunctions of the Shari'ah of Islam - 
such as, fasting, Hajj, Zakah and many others - relate to the lunar 
calendar. But, when it comes to finding out the day, date and year, the 
way the Holy Qur’an has declared the Moon as its indicator, it has, 
very similarly, identified the Sun too as the other sign: 
y.Hi.lj' (so that you may know the number of years and the count [of 
time] - 10:5). Therefore, keeping track of days and years through a 
lunar or solar calendar is equally permissible. But, Allah Ta'ala has 
favored the lunar calendar for His injunctions and has made it the 
pivot round which the laws of the Shari'ah of Islam revolve. Therefore, 
the preservation of the lunar calendar is Fard al-Kifayah (a religious 
obligation which, if fulfilled by some, will absolve others). If the entire 
community of Muslims were to abandon the lunar calendar and forget 
all about it, then, everyone will be a sinner. However, if it remains 
viably preserved, the use of another calendar is also permissible - but, 
there is no doubt that it is against the way of Allah and the way of the 
worthy forbears of Islam - therefore, it is not good to opt for it 
unnecessarily. 


The month intercalated to complete the count of years has also 
been considered by some as impermissible under this verse. But, that 
is not correct because the system of reckoning under which the inter¬ 
calation of a month is made has nothing to do with the laws of the 
Shari'ah of Islam. The people of Jahiliyyah changed these religious 
laws by adding to the lunar and legal months, therefore, they were 
censured. As for the practice of intercalation, it does not affect Islamic 
legal injunctions, therefore, it is not included under this prohibition. 


Verses 38 - 42 

.A * 


ijjifi j ’S3 fy. tiij&Sii i&'&Ji CfeiT 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


379 


e J^Vl Jl?&& 

i%fiJ, Oil!fjSil £^' tu 



lifii art \g8u$\ Z&h-tiJi b 
dii 3j5G Jiiii di Si S5^v ^uj 3j£: ddi 


£ii 4/ j/?; u# ^ :jic s^r di 12^: 
‘ 51 / di/^dil ,3* d id 5 "jidi ijjl? 



O those who believe, what is wrong with you that when 
it is said to you, “Come out in the way of Allah,” you 
turn heavy (and cling) to the ground. Have you become 
happy with the worldly life instead of the Hereafter? 
So, the enjoyment of the worldly life is but little as 
compared with the Hereafter. [38] 


If you do not come out (in the way of Allah), He will 
punish you with a painful punishment and will bring in 
your place a nation other than you, and you can do 
Him no harm at all. And Allah is powerful over every¬ 
thing. [39] 


If you do not help him, then, Allah has already helped 
him when the disbelievers expelled him, the second of 
the two, when they were in the cave, and he was saying 
to his companion, “Do not grieve. Allah is surely with 
us,” So, Allah sent down His tranquility on him and 
strengthened him with troOps you did not see, and ren¬ 
dered the word of the disbelievers low. And the word of 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


380 


Allah is the highest. And Allah is Mighty, Wise. [40] 

Come out (in the way of Allah), light or heavy, and car¬ 
ry out jihad with your wealth and lives, in the way of 
Allah. That is good for you, if you were to realize. [41] 

If there had been some gain near at hand and an aver¬ 
age journey, they would have certainly followed you, 
but the difficult destination was too far for them. And 
they will swear by Allah: “If we could, we would have 
set out with you.” They are ruining themselves. And Al¬ 
lah knows that they are liars. [42] 

Commentary 

The verses quoted above describe an important battle from among 
those fought by the Holy Prophet jJLj 4~U *l!i As a corollary, also 
given there are many injunctions and instructions. This battle is 
known as the battle of Tabuk and is almost the last battle of the Holy 
Prophet pJLj *JLc Jbl 

Tabuk is the name of a place located close to the Syrian border to¬ 
wards the north of Madinah. Syria was, at that time, a province of the 
government controlled by Byzantine Christians. When the Holy 
Prophet ,JLj 4 -Jlc *1)1 reached Madinah in the 8th year of Hijrah after 
the conquest of Makkah and the battle of Hunain, that was a time ma¬ 
jor parts of the Arabian Peninsula had come under the control of the 
Islamic state. This was a period of some peace Muslims could enjoy af¬ 
ter their eight year long battles against the Mushriks of Makkah. 

But, destiny has its own workings. Is it not that Allah had already 
revealed about the blessed person of the Holy Prophet 

£$}I Js •;*&!). (so that He makes it prevail over every faith - 9:33, 48:28, 
61:9) which was the glad tidings of a world of victories and the ascen¬ 
dancy of the Faith of Truth? The Prophet ,JLj *JLc *1)1 and his compan¬ 
ions in the mission would hardly have the respite to relax. Soon after 
they reached Madinah, Syrian traders of olive oil informed them that 
the Byzantine ruler, Hiraql had assembled his forces at Tabuk on the 
border of Syria. They were also told that soldiers of the Byzantine 
army had been placated by the payment of advance salaries for one 
year and that they had sinister understanding with some Arab tribes 
and that they all had plans to mount a surprise attack on Madinah. 

When this information reached the Holy Prophet (JL-j *jl* Jji ju, he 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


381 


decided that their attack plans should be pre-empted and they should 
be challenged where they are gathered together with their forces. 
(Tafslr Mazhari, with reference to Muhammad ibn Yusuf Salih!) 

By chance, this was a terribly hot summer. People in Madinah 
were generally devoted to agriculture. Their farms were close to being 
harvested. On this depended their economy, rather the sustenance of 
the whole year. Like people in vocations who have empty pockets by 
the end of the month, people who depend on agricultural produce are 
empty-handed close to the harvesting time. On the one hand, they 
have poverty while on the other, they have hopes of income in the near 
future. Then, there was this scorching heat of the summer for a people 
who had their first breather after eight years of incessant wars. No 
doubt, this was an exacting trial. 

But, equally crucial was the time. This Jihad was different. It was 
not like the wars they had fought before. At that time, they were fight¬ 
ing common people like them. Here, they were to confront the trained 
armed forces of Hiraql, the ruler of Byzantine. Therefore, the Holy 
Prophet jjL .j Jjl ordered all Muslims of Madinah to come out for 
this Jihad. He also invited some other tribes living around Madinah to 
join in. 


This general call was a tough test for those who were willing to 
make sacrifices for Islam as well as a challenge to the hypocrites who 
would have to prove their claim to be Muslims by joining the Jihad or 
be exposed as false pretenders. Apart from this consideration, the in¬ 
evitable consequence was that those who professed belief in Islam re¬ 
acted to the call in terms of the conditions they were in. The Holy 
Qur’an has enumerated them as separate groups of people and has 
pointed out to their condition as well. 


The first group included those who were strong and perfect in their 
faith. They were ready for Jihad without any hesitation. The second 
group was composed of those who hesitated at the initial stage but, 
later on, joined up with those ready for Jihad. About these two groups 


of people, the Holy Qur’an said: L’jS jjpiil ieis fjSJi £jjjl 

who followed him in the hour of hardship after the hearts of a 
group of them were about to turn crooked - 9:117). The third group was 
of those who were unable to join this Jihad on the basis of some genu¬ 
ine excuse. About that, by saying: Jii YJ . llUll (There is no 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


382 


blame on the weak, nor on the sick - 9:91), the Holy Qur’an has an¬ 
nounced the acceptance of their excuse. Belonging to the fourth group 
were people who, despite that they had no excuse to offer, simply did 
not participate in the Jihad out of sheer laziness. Several verses were 
revealed about them, for example: i+Aii. <[pjlel$j£l'(And there are others 

"" if' * O ** 

who admitted their sins - 9:102), and: 3£>l'(And there are oth¬ 

ers whose matter is deferred till the command of Allah [comes] - 9:106), 
and: \$ZJ £jji 0Zl\ Jj-j (And [He relented] towards the three whose mat¬ 
ter was deferred - 9:118). These three verses were revealed about simi¬ 
lar people. They carry admonition for their inertia as well as the good 
news that their Taubah or repentance has been accepted. 

The fifth group was that of the hypocrites, the munafiqs. Their hy¬ 
pocrisy was deep seated and saying yes to Jihad was hard. Finally, 
they failed to cover it up and stayed away from Jihad. Hypocrites have 
been mentioned in the verses of the Qur’an on many places. 

The sixth group included munafiqs who had joined up with Mus¬ 
lims with the objective of spying and mischief making. The Holy 
Qur’an mentions their conduct in the following verses: 

{1) ’fis&fes (And among you there are their listeners - 9:47); 

{2} Jl) £j/ (And if you ask them, they will say - 9:65); 

{3} ijlli'p G (And had planned for what they could not achieve - 9:74). 

Given above were details about those who stayed away from the 
Jihad. But, the fact is that their total number was negligible. The 
majority did belong to those Muslims who, despite many prohibitive 
factors, chose to sacrifice all gains and comforts and were ready to face 
expected hardships in the way of Allah. This is the reason why the 
total number of the Islamic army which set out for this Jihad was 
thirty thousand - a number never seen in a Jihad before. 

The outcome of this Jihad expedition was that Hiraql, the Byzan¬ 
tine ruler — when he heard about such a large Muslim force coming up 
against him - was overtaken by awe. He simply did not turn up on the 
battlefield. The Holy Prophet J~j <l-1c Jjl camped on the war front 
with the army of his angelic companions for a few days in the hope 
that the enemy may decide to come. When totally disappointed, he re¬ 
turned back to Madinah. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


383 


The verses quoted above obviously relate to the fourth group of 
people who did not take part in the Jihad because of their inertia and 
without any valid excuse. In the beginning of this set of verses, they 
were admonished for their lethargy, then, they were told why they be¬ 
haved the way they did and, finally, they were told how to correct 
themselves. This wise approach unfolds major lessons. 

Regard for Dunya and Disregard for Akhirah : 

The Root of all Crimes 

No doubt, what has been said above is related to a particular event. 
But, if we were to think about it, we shall realize that the real cause of 
negligence towards faith - and of every crime and sin - is nothing but 
this love for the material and heedlessness towards the^life to come. 
Therefore, the Holy Prophet jJUj **U JlII Lf l*> said: Js (The 

love for Dunya [material life of the present world] is at the top of every 
error and sin). That is why it was said in the verse: 

O those who believe, what is wrong with you that, when it is 
said to you, “Come out in the way of Allah,” you turn heavy 
(and cling) to the ground. Have you become happy with the 
worldly life instead of the Hereafter? - 38. 

This was the diagnosis of the disease. Its treatment appears next 
when it was said: 

So, the enjoyment of the worldly life is but little as compared 
with the Hereafter - 38. 

The thrust of the argument is that one’s major concern in life 
should be that of the eternal life in Akhirah. It is this concern for the 
Akhirah that offers the only and the most perfect treatment of all dis¬ 
eases. Incidentally, this also happens to be the master prescription for 
eradication of crimes that bother human societies all over the world. 

The Aqa’id of Islam (articles of faith) are based on three principles: 
(1) Tauhid (Oneness of Allah); (2) Risalah (the true mission of the mes¬ 
senger and prophet sent by Allah) and (3) Akhirah (Hereafter). Out of 
these, the belief in Akhirah is, in all reality, the moving spirit for cor¬ 
rection of deeds and serves as an iron wall before crimes and sins. A 
little thought would make it amply clear that there can be no peace in 
the world without subscribing to this belief. The world as we see it to¬ 
day has reached its zenith in terms of its material progress. Then, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


384 


there is no dearth of functional solutions and plans designed to eradi¬ 
cate crimes. Laws proliferate. So does the administrative machinery to 
interpret and implement the objective. No doubt, there is progress in 
those terms. But, along with it, everyone is witnessing crimes increas¬ 
ing day by day, everywhere, in all societies. The reason, in our humble 
view, is no other but that the disease has not been properly diagnosed 
and the line of treatment is not sound. The root of the disease is mate¬ 
rialism, excessive indulgence in the temporal and negligence or avoid¬ 
ance of the thought of any life to come. The only way this frame of 
mind can be corrected is to remember Allah and think about the Akhi- 
rah, the life to come. Whenever and wherever in this world this master 
prescription was used, whole nations and their societies became mod¬ 
els of humanity at its best earning the admiration of angels. That this 
happened during the blessed period of the Holy Prophet Jl-j -ULc Jji 
and during the age of his noble Companions, is sufficient as its proof. 

It is interesting that the modern world would very much like to 
eradicate crimes but it would do so by not having to bother about God 
and the Hereafter. To achieve this purpose, it invents, introduces and 
surrounds itself with things to live with - a lifestyle which would nev¬ 
er allow human beings to turn their attention towards God and Here¬ 
after. The result of this negative approach is no mystery. We are 
watching it with our own eyes. Even in the face of ever better laws, all 
legal systems seem to be failing. Crimes are there as they were, in 
fact, they are increasing with dangerous speed. To conclude, we wish 
that intelligent people among countries and nations of the world would 
think of using this Qur’anic prescription, at least for once, and discover 
for themselves how easily crimes can be controlled. 

Now, as we move to the second verse (39), the text has, after serving 
a notice of warning to the lazy and the listless about their disease and 
its treatment, delivered its verdict by saying: 

‘If you do not come out for Jihad, Allah will have you go 
through a painful punishment and bring in your place a na¬ 
tion other than you, and (by your refusal to follow Islam) you 
can bring no loss to Allah (or His Messenger) because Allah is 
powerful over everything.’ 

In the third verse (40), by citing the event of the Hijrah of the Holy 
Prophet n*, it has been stressed that the Rasul of Allah has no need to 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 38 - 42 


385 


depend on any human help and support. Allah can help him directly 
through unseen factors - as it happened at the time of Hijrah when 
his own people had forced him to leave his homeland. On this journey, 
the only companion he had was Sayyidna Abu Bakr All the true 
one. Enemy foot soldiers and riders were looking for them in hot pur¬ 
suit. The place to hide he had found was no fortified fortress. It was 
just a cave and the enemy search party had reached close to its edges. 
Inside it, the companion of the cave, Sayyidna Abu Bakr ^ *1)1 was 
worried, not for his own safety, but about his master. He was in fear 
lest the enemy outside were to harm the Holy Prophet But, the 
master himself was sitting calm like a mountain at peace. Not simply 
that he was himself cool and collected, he was telling his companion, 
Sayyidna Abu Bakr: *Uloj,oj^ (‘/a tahzan innallaha ma‘ana Do not 

grieve. Allah is with us). 

What has been said here is composed of a couple of words, easy and 
effortless as they sound. But, let those listening place the blueprint of 
conditions prevailing before their eyes, cross their hearts and ask: Can 
someone dependent on mere material means be that tranquil? Every 
honest person would say that it was just not possible. The reason for 
this was no other but that which the Qur’an has given in the next sen¬ 
tence: 

So, Allah sent down His tranquility on him and strengthened 
him with troops you did not see ... 

These troops could be troops of angels, and of the elemental forces 
of the entire universe too - for they are, so to say, a virtual army of Al¬ 
lah. When this happened, the ultimate came to be. The. word of disbe¬ 
lievers was rendered low and the word of Allah remained the highest. 

In the fourth verse (41), the command given earlier has been re¬ 
peated for emphasis. It is being said here that, once the Prophet of Al¬ 
lah orders people to come out for Jihad, they must come out as a mat¬ 
ter of absolute obligation - for on the compliance of this command 
hinges all that is good for them. 

The fifth verse (42) mentions an excuse offered by those who did not 
participate in the Jihad because of negligence and lethargy. It was re¬ 
jected as unacceptable because they did not use the ability given by Al¬ 
lah to pick and choose the right thing to do in His way. Therefore, the 
excuse of not having that ability is not valid. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


386 


Verses 43 - 52 


IJsii <iJJI dU 'ggiJL Cdi! ^ E a££ DJI U£ 

^Jl)L jJj-ojj JJI dli3^ ^ ^ a5sJI jj-ixjj 



j#u$i ll)i ij ijlcV gj$Li [#;[# 

j&i W /£-uiJl £* fej 
'■^LiJl ;jlg jfcUfr I 

\jj£\ j2 4tv> &^UfeLZ J djlj ^ Ctj&z ^4ij 

jtfj£| d* JS 1#V! # irffeo? & £Sfl 

oj O-^l 4j*Tt>* (i^J OJ*j f*J ^ 

l[ it* sy&\r*i2g T fif> Sjj '‘-uiuLs i^i ^ vi 

UJ->! JL3 IjJjiJ aZJLji a &\’*n 7 jjj ijbjp-fj 


*9 


s 
<Loj 


I' lT g* i>J Jp J j-^ |i-»5 5 J4- : cr? 

Jjl Jij eO>" ^ eHj"ii)l idl U 3j, 
4rliii ^lii %iL s^ r as 3i S^I 

Jl ^Jo cjIjuL iJUl^^f .r-^f j! 

^ o Y ^ U I J li/jJ L 

Allah has forgiven you; why did you permit them be¬ 
fore the truthful ones could become distinct to you, and 
you could be sure of the liars. [43] 

Those who believe in Allah and in the Last Day do not 
ask you to be excused from jihad with their wealth and 
lives. And Allah is aware of the God-fearing. [44] 

Only those people ask you to be excused who do not be¬ 
lieve in Allah and in the Last Day and whose hearts are 
in doubt, so they are wavering in their doubt. [45] 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


387 


And had they wished to set out, they would have made 
some preparation for it, but Allah disliked their going 
forth, so He detained them, and it was said to them, 

“Stay back with those who are staying back.” [46] 

And had they set out with you, they would have added 
nothing for you but trouble, and would have run 
around in your midst seeking disorder for you. And 
among you there are their listeners. And Allah is aware 
of the wrongdoers. [47] 

They sought disorder even earlier and tried to upset 
matters for you, until the Truth arrived and the will of 
Allah prevailed, though they disliked it. [48] 

And among them there is one who says, “Allow me (to 
stay behind) and do not expose me to an ordeal.” Look! 

They have already fallen into an ordeal, and certainly 
the Jahannam has the disbelievers encircled. [49] 

If some good comes to you, it annoys them, and if some 
suffering visits you, they say, “We had already taken 
care of our problem” and they go their way delighted. 

[50] 

Say, “Nothing can ever reach us except what Allah has 
written for us. He is our Master. And in Allah alone the 
believers must place their trust.” [51] 

Say, “Is it not that you are expecting for us but one of 
the two good things (martyrdom and victory)? And we 
are expecting for you that Allah sends to you a punish¬ 
ment from Himself or at our hands. So, wait. Of course, 
we are waiting with you. [52] 

Commentary 

Mentioned in most of the seventeen verses of this entire section are 
hypocrites who had, on false pretexts, secured permission from the 
Holy Prophet jJuj Jjl that they would not go to participate in the 
Jihad of Tabuk. Falling under it, there are many injunctions, rulings 
and instructions that have been pointed out in the commentary. 

The first verse (43) begins in a subtle manner. Here, a complaint 
has been made to the Holy Prophet jJLj Jil Jl*. He has been told that 
those hypocrites were lying when they presented themselves as de¬ 
serving of being excused from active service in Jihad. But, he accepted 
their plea without first having made an inquiry about the real state of 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


388 


affairs with them which would have made the true and false of it come 
out clearly. This gave them the opportunity to go about congratulating 
themselves on how smartly they had deceived the Holy Prophet 
Though, in verses coming next, Allah Ta'ala has also clarified that 
those people were asking to be excused from Jihad just to play tricks - 
otherwise, even if they were not permitted, still then, they would have 
never gone. And in another verse, it was also pointed out that, in case 
these people did go to this Jihad, it would have been of no use to Mus¬ 
lims - in fact, their conspiracy and mischief would have been far more 
dangerous. 

But, the drift of the argument is that, in case, permission was not 
given, they were still not going to go anyway - however, their hypocri¬ 
sy would have definitely been exposed and they would not have had 
the opportunity to throw taunts at Muslims and exult that they had 
fooled them. And the real purpose here is not to show wrath or dis¬ 
pleasure, instead of that, it is a way of saying that, in future, the mo¬ 
tives and moves of such people should be watched and screened care¬ 
fully. Then, it can be conceded that there does exist a certain kind of 
displeasure in the external framework of words but it has been coated 
with a delightful concern for sensitivities, particularly that of his dear 
prophet. We can see that the expression of displeasure which begins 
with the words: $cJii jj, (why did you permit them?) does not actually 
begin until said ahead of it was: *1)1 U& (Allah has forgiven you)! 

It has been said by people having insight in the nature of God- 
Prophet relationship that the Holy Prophet ,JUj *Jx *1)1 J-o had a special 
attachment to Allah Jalla Thana’uh. His heart could not simply bear 
the shock of being in a situation where he is subjected to questioning 
from Allah Ta'ala. For instance, if the words: pp'cjjl’^lwhy did you per¬ 
mit them?) - which translate as interrogation in their formal appear¬ 
ance - were said in the very beginning, the blessed heart of the Holy 
Prophet <uLc *1)1 J -0 would have been simply unable to take it. There¬ 
fore, the words: ll£ (Allah has forgiven you) have been placed ear¬ 

lier. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it gives him the information 
that something has happened, something that was not liked by Allah. 
Secondly, the information that he has been forgiven for whatever had 
happened was being given beforehand so that what is said next should 
not break his blessed heart. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


389 


As for the word of forgiveness, let there be no doubt about it and let 
no one say that forgiveness is usually given for crimes and sins - and 
the Holy Prophet jJLj *Ju « *lJi was ma‘swn (protected from sin) - what, 
then, would be the sense of forgiveness at this place? The answer is 
that the way there is forgiveness for sin, similarly, there could also be 
forgiveness for what is contrary to the preferred way {khilaf al-awla) 
or is simply undesirable - and that does not violate the concept of the 
‘ismah (infallibility) of a prophet. 

In the second (44) and third (45) verses given there was the differ¬ 
ence between believers and hypocrites. Those who believe in Allah 
Ta'ala truly and staunchly do not pick an occasion like that only to 
seek desertion from Jihad just for the sake of love for their lives and 
wealth and go about asking the permission of their prophet to stay 
back. In fact, this is the behavior of only those who do not believe in 
Allah and the Day of Judgement ( Akhirah ), truly and correctly - and, 
as for Allah, He knows the God-fearing perfectly well. 


At least, one aspect of why their excuse was false has been given in 
the fourth (46) where it has been said: \H iS IjSljfjJj (And had 

they [really] wished to set out [for Jihad], they would have [of necessi¬ 
ty] made [at least] some preparation for it [but they made none] - 46). 
This shows that the plea of having an excuse was false. The truth of 


the matter was that they just did not have any intention to come out 
for Jihad. 


How do we know if an excuse is reasonable or unreasonable? 

An important principle comes out from this verse, a principle that 
can be used to distinguish between a reasonable and an unreasonable 
excuse. To wit, an excuse presented only by those who are ready to 
carry out orders - but, were rendered helpless by some accident - can 
be entertained and accepted. This rule applies to all matters pertain¬ 
ing to the excusable. As for a person who made no preparation to carry 
out orders, did not even make the intention to carry them out when 
called, thereafter, came some excuse - then, this excuse will be like 
the excuse of sin which is worse than the sin. This will not be taken as 
a genuine excuse. Take the example of a person who has made all 
preparations to present himself in the masjid for his Jumu'ah prayers 
and is intending to go there when, all of a sudden, came an impedi¬ 
ment which prevented him from going there. Then, his excuse is rea- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


390 


sonable - and Allah Ta‘ala blesses such a person with the full reward 
of his ‘Ibadah (worship). As for the person who just did not make any 
preparation but, later on, by chance, there came an excuse before him, 
then, this will be taken as nothing but a ruse and pretext. 

Take an example from everyday life. One makes the necessary 
preparations to get up early in the morning and get ready for the Fajr 
Salah. An alarm was set in the family clock, or somebody was assigned 
to give a wake-up call. After that, by chance, whatever arrangements 
were made did not work - and because of this, the Salah was missed. 
This is similar to what happened to the Holy Prophet ^ when he 
camped on a journey late at night (lailatu ’t-ta‘ris ). In order to get up 
on time for Fajr Salah, he arranged with Sayyidna Bilal ^ Jjl that 
he would sit the night out and wake up everybody when morning 
comes. But, by chance, sleep overtook him too. Everyone got up only 
when the sun had risen. So, this excuse is correct and reasonable. 
Based on this, consoling his Companions, the Holy Prophet ^ said: 
iliJuJI 'J I Uj y£)l j> y LfJj^iThere is no negligence in sleep. Negligence 

* ' v * 

occurs only when awake) that is, one is excusable in sleep. The reason 
was that, as far as it was possible to do, arrangements had already 
been made to get up on time. 

In short, a decision about an excuse being reasonable or unreason¬ 
able can be taken only by knowing whether or not preparation was 
made to carry out orders. Simply using a lot of words to make a point 
gets nothing done. 

In the fifth (47) verse, it was explained that the hypocrites had pro¬ 
cured the permission to stay away from Jihad by deceit and now it was 
better that they just did not participate in it. Had they gone there, 
they would have done nothing but hatch conspiracies, circulate rumors 
and spread disorder. The Qur’anic statement: j&i ’p&Jj (And among 
you there are their listeners) means that, among Muslims, there were 
some simple people too, people who could be easily taken advantage of 
and who may have likely been affected by their false rumors. 

The opening sentence of the sixth verse (48): ^ ilifl tp&i jjf (They 

sought disorder even earlier...) refers to what had happened in the 
battle of TJhud. 

The statement: and the will of Allah prevailed, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


391 


though they disliked it) at the end of the verse indicates that victory is 
in the hands of Allah. This has been proved on earlier occasions when 
the Holy Prophet ,JL, *Jlc *1)1 JL* was blessed with victory. The same will 
happen in this Jihad as well when all tricks played by hypocrites will 
fail. 


In the seventh verse (49), after citing a particular excuse made by a 
noted hypocrite called Jadd ibn Qays, a comment has been made 
which shows how astray he had gone. The excuse for not going on Ji¬ 
had he came up with was that he happened to be a young man. If he 
went out against the Roman Christians in their territory, there were 
chances that he might fall into the snare of their beautiful women! 
(‘Do not expose me to an ordeal’) The Qur’an responded by saying: ^ 
Ijkfj i2i)l (Look! they have already fallen into an ordeal). It means that 
such people were not very smart. They were trying to hide behind the 
excuse of an imaginary ordeal, not realizing that they had already fal¬ 
len into the sin of a certain ordeal, the ordeal of acting against the 
command of Allah and His Messenger, and of deserting the Jihad ef¬ 
fort, right on the spot. 

The last sentence of the verse: (and certainly the 

Jahannam has the disbelievers encircled) could have two meanings. It 
could either mean that the Hell would encircle them in the Hereafter. 
Or, it could mean that the very chain of causes, which are operating to 
take them to Hell, and which have them all encircled at that time, are 
what has been equated with Hell. Given this interpretation, it would 
suggest that they happen to be, even now, within the larger circle of 
nothing but Hell. 


In the eighth verse (50), yet another aspect of their low nature has 
been mentioned by saying that, though these people live among Mus¬ 
lims giving the outward impression that they are one of them, but they 
are soon exposed by their inner reactions to what happens to the Holy 


Prophet Jl-j *4^ *1)1 The text illustrates it by saying: jUj-£ * 
(If some good comes to you, it annoys them) and: 61>l SI I pjil"’" 


’I' 

j}j 


J fSj jSl j-; (and if some suffering visits you, they say, “We 


had already taken care of our problem"). They would take it as expedi¬ 
ent in their favor that they did not go along with Muslims and found 
the results satisfying enough to go away delighted. 


In the ninth verse (51), Allah Ta‘ala has instructed the Holy Prophet 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 43 - 52 


392 


(Jl-j *Jl t *1)1 Lf L>, and Muslims, that they should not allow themselves to 
be affected by things like that said by the hypocrites and that they 
must always keep reality as it is before them. The words of the Holy 
Qur’an are: yjLjil JZJblPS* llf-SDl C &\Li j i (Say, “Nothing 

can ever reach us except what Allah has written for us. He is our Mas¬ 
ter. And in Allah alone the believers must place their trust”). In other 
words, the Holy Prophet jju, *-it *1)1 Ju* is being asked that he should tell 
those, who worship material causes such as these, that they were in a 
serious deception. These material causes were no more than a curtain. 
The power that moves inside them belongs to none but Allah. Whatev¬ 
er happens to us is exactly whatever Allah has written for us - and He 
is our Master, Guardian and Helper. And Muslims must place their 
real trust in Him alone. Consequently, they must see material causes 
as no more than effective agents and signs while never taking them to 
be the real dispensers of any good or evil. 


Belief in Destiny includes Management of affairs: Giving 
Inaction or Mismanagement the name of Trust is Wrong 

This verse (51) brings into sharp focus the essential reality of the re¬ 
ligious issue of Taqdir (destiny) and Tawakkul (trust). The outcome of 
believing in Taqdir and Tawakkul should never be that one goes home, 
sits tight, does nothing and says what will be will be. This is no belief 
in destiny and this is no practice of trust. Instead, the thing to do is 
that one should devote full personal energy and courage to put togeth¬ 
er whatever lawful material means one can arrange for - within the 
range of what lies in control. After this has been done, the matter 
should be resigned to destiny and trust. However, the caveat is that 
one has to keep his or her sight trained toward Allah alone - for it is 
He who has the ultimate outcome of everything one does under His ab¬ 
solute power and control. 


Speaking generally, people around the world are found in great 
confusion about the religious problem of Taqdir and Tawakkul. Some 
of them are plain irreligious. They just do not recognize the very possi¬ 
bility that something like that exists. They are content with material 
means as the deity they are comfortable with. Then, there are other 
people who lack proper awareness. They have turned destiny and trust 
into a pretext for their sloth and inertia. The Prophet of Islam, may 
the blessing of Allah and peace be upon him, made full preparation for 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 53 - 59 


393 


Jihad, after which, the revelation of this verse put an end to this cycle 
of excess and deficiency and showed the right way - as put in the live¬ 
ly Persian saying: ^1jJfjSjt (With Tawakkul [trust], do tie the 

knees of the camel). To sum up, means which you have the option to 
utilize, are nothing but blessings given by Allah Ta‘ala. Not taking ad¬ 
vantage of these means is ingratitude, even stupidity. Of course, do 
not give means the status they do not have and believe that results 
and outcomes are not subservient to these means - instead of all that, 
they obey the command of Allah Almighty. 

The tenth verse (52), while mentioning the charming demeanor of 
the man of true faith, has given an answer to hypocrites delighted over 
the discomfort of Muslims. According to the man of true faith, the 
thing that hypocrites take as suffering for Muslims and which makes 
them happy is really no suffering for them. In fact, it is another form 
of comfort and success. The reason is that a man of true faith becomes 
deserving of eternal returns and rewards even after having failed in 
his strong resolve, something that is the real objective of all his suc¬ 
cesses. Therefore, he succeeds, even in failure and gains, even in loss. 

The first sentence of the verse: 1 jjJ-IVI % j* (Say, “Is it not 

that you are expecting for us but one of the two good things 
[martyrdom and victory]”?) means exactly this. However, along with it, 
it was also said that the fate of the disbelievers was quite contrary for 
they will find no respite from suffering or punishment under any con¬ 
dition. Either, they would be punished at the hands of Muslims right 
here in this world, in which case, they will taste the punishment in the 
mortal and the eternal world both. And, in case, they somehow es¬ 
caped unscathed in the mortal world, there is no possibility of deliver¬ 
ance from the punishment of the Hereafter. 


Verses 53 - 59 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 53 - 59 


394 


u2in jjid\ dji SjJ uy^ji 

ft. 1 4 , j 4 ° * ^ oJ 5 *£ ( ♦ * 1 1 

o>>^LP ^(^4 

4»V> SjZzJ*. P*j Ij5jj 5i.l^ jl o>^ jT 

oj; Ijiy- i*L ijki 5J5 E ciii)i ^ iijXf55 

5^d)i i%j4^Aji i£ii ijjtij^ tffjjyjiji jtjif 


aJtjj ^ Ji fy 1 .4 L^9 £ 


Say, “Spend, willingly or unwillingly, it will never be 
accepted from you. You have been a sinning people.” 

[53] 

And nothing has prevented their spending(s) from 
being accepted from them but that they have 
disbelieved in Allah and in His Messenger, and they do 
not come to the §alah but lazily, and do not spend but 
unwillingly. [54] 

So, their wealth and their children should not attract 
you. In fact, Allah wants to punish them with these in 
this lowly life and that their souls should depart while 
they are disbelievers. [55] 

And they swear by Allah that they are from among you, 
whereas they are not from among you, but they are a 
people in fear. [56] 

If they find a place of refuge or caves or any place to 
enter, they will turn towards it running unbridled. [57] 

And among them there are those who find fault with 
you in the matter of §adaqat (alms). So, if they are 
given some of it, they are quite happy, and if they 
are given nothing from it, suddenly they become 
unhappy. [58] 

Only if they were happy with what Allah and His Mes¬ 
senger had given to them, and had said, “Allah is all- 
sufficient for us. Allah shall give us (more) of His grace, 
and His Messenger as well. Indeed, we crave for Allah 
alone.” [59] 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 53 - 59 


395 


Commentary 

Mentioned in the previous verses were bad morals and bad deeds 
of the hypocrites. The same subject continues in the verses quoted 
above. As for the statement in verse 55 - where it has been declared 
that the wealth and children of hypocrites should not be taken as a 
blessing for them as these are, in fact, a form of punishment from Al¬ 
lah - it has a reason. Is it not that love for and engrossment in worldly 
life becomes a punishment right here in this world? One starts with 
desires to acquire worldly wealth, then goes through a series of hard 
work to establish the necessary channels, day in and day out, sacrific¬ 
ing sleep, comfort and family life. After that, if one succeeds, come the 
concerns of increasing and retaining it - a round the clock punishment 
indeed. A serious loss or sickness could become unwelcome cans of 
worries, and if one happens to get everything one wants, the vicious 
circle continues either through apprehensions of decreasing wealth or 
cravings of increasing it further. There is just no respite anytime. 

Finally, these things go out of one’s hands. This may happen at the 
time of death, or much earlier. Whenever it does, despair takes over. 
What is this, if not punishment? Man surrounds himself with articles 
of comfort and calls it comfort. Real comfort, the peace and comfort of 
the heart is something man has yet to find. But, in the meantime, man 
has to rely on material means and things for satisfaction, not realizing 
that these agents will keep snatching away his share of peace in this 
world and will also become the prelude to the punishment in the world 
to come. 

Can §adaqah be given to a disbeliever? 

The last two verses show that the hypocrites used to receive a 
share from properties available as Sadaqat (plural of Sadaqah, mean¬ 
ing a donation through which one seeks reward with Allah Ta‘ala, usu¬ 
ally referred to as alms or charity). But, when they did not get these as 
they wished, they became angry and started accusing and cursing. If, 
at this place, Sadaqat are taken in their general sense - which in¬ 
cludes all Sadaqat, necessary ( wajib ) and voluntary (nafl) - then, there 
is no problem, because non-Muslims can be given out of the voluntary 
Sadaqat. This is permissible on the basis of the consensus of Muslim 
Ummah and stands proved from Sunnah. However, even if Sadaqat at 
this place mean what is obligatory, like Zakah and ‘Ushr, then, we 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


396 


should remember that the hypocrites were given a share from it on the 
basis that they claimed to be Muslims. Since they claimed to believe in 
all the necessary articles of faith and their kufr was hidden in their 
hearts, with no conclusive proof in their apparent claims they were 
treated as Muslims to the extent of this worldly life and Allah Ta'ala 
had, in His wisdom, given the orders that the hypocrites should be 
treated as Muslims. (Bayan al-Qur’an) 

Signs of Hypocrites and Warning for Muslims 

In verse 54, two signs of hypocrites have been given: (1) they come 
to the Salah lazily and listlessly, and (2) that they spend in the way of 
Allah unwillingly. 

Muslims have been warned here that sloth in Salah and being sour 
at heart while spending in the way of Allah, that is, Zakah and Sada- 
qah, are signs of nifaq (hypocrisy). All Muslims should make conscious 
effort to stay safe from these signs. 


Verse 60 


ujjl’i 5 ck lJjij ggd\s 3*0 ci li)i iTi 

Jjl <Ji> 54^*4L> p-pj-l-* 

4i. > ‘jgi£ lily i All & LSJjS 


The Sadaqat (prescribed alms) are only for the poor, the 
needy, those employed to collect these, those whose 
hearts are to be won, in (freeing) slaves, in (releasing) 
those in debt, in the way of Allah and for a wayfarer - 
this being prescribed by Allah. And Allah is Knowing, 
Wise. [60] 


Commentary 
Recipients of §adaqat 

Objection raised by some hypocrites against the Holy Prophet jjfr. 
and the answer to that, was given in verses previous to this. It will be 
recalled that the hypocrites had blamed the Holy Prophet JLj *1)1 
that he (God forbid) does not observe justice while disbursing Sadaqat 
and gives whatever he wishes to whomsoever he chooses. 

In the present verse, by listing the recipients of Sadaqat category- 
wise, Allah Ta‘ala has removed their misunderstanding and told them 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


397 


that He has himself determined as to who should receive Sadaqat. The 
Holy Prophet *L)l only complies with the Divine decree while 

disbursing Sadaqat - doing nothing on his own or with his personal 
opinion. 

This is also confirmed by the Hadith reported in Abu Dawud and 
Darqutnx as based on a narration by Sayyidna Ziyad ibn Harith al- 
Suda’i who says: I visited the Holy Prophet (J—j *JL *1)1 where I no¬ 

ticed that he was sending Muslim forces against my people. I said to 
him: ‘Ya Rasulallah, you do not have to send any troops. I guarantee 
that all of them will submit before you with pleasure.’ Then I wrote a 
letter to my people and all of them embraced Islam. Thereupon, he 
said: **$1 l? (which was like a title saying that this person 

was the beloved one of his people who followed him!). I submitted: ‘I 
deserve no credit for that. Allah, in His grace, guided them right and 
they embraced Islam.’ I was still present in the sitting, says the narra¬ 
tor, when a person came in asking for something. The answer he gave 
to him was: 

“Allah Ta‘ala has never handed over the distribution of Sada¬ 
qat to any prophet, even to anyone other than a prophet. In¬ 
stead of that, He has Himself determined eight categories for 
it. If you are included under one of those eight, I can let you 
have it. (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, p. 168, v. 8) 

This was the background in which this verse was revealed. Now, 
before going to its explanation in full, please understand that Allah 
Jalla Thana’uh has promised sustenance for the entire creation. Says 
the Qur’an: LJjjj *1)1 J>£ '-»/ (And there is no creature on 

earth but that upon Allah is its provision - 11:6). However, in His infi¬ 
nite wisdom, he has not done something like making all of them equal 
in the matter of provision or sustenance - or rizq as the Qur’an says. 
This would have done away with the difference of rich and poor. This 
is a vast field of inquiry full of hundreds of wise insights into the mo¬ 
ral grooming of human beings and into the proper ordering of the uni¬ 
versal system they live under - something that cannot be taken up in 
details at this place. So, it was in His wisdom that He made someone 
rich and someone else poor and then fixed a share for the poor and 
needy in the riches of the rich. It was said: JidllJ 

(And, in their wealth, there is a share fixed for the asking and the de¬ 
prived - 70:24) which was theirs as a matter of right. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


398 


First of all, this tells us that the command to take out Sadaqah 
from the wealth of the wealthy is no favor from them. In fact, this is a 
right of the needy the fulfillment of which is their duty. Then, it also 
tells us that this right is fixed in the sight of Allah Ta'ala - not that 
someone decreases or increases it at will, anytime. Pursuant to that, 
the duty of making the amount of this fixed right widely known was 
assigned to the Holy Prophet Ju-j *Jlc Therefore, he acted with 

marked diligence and elan in this matter. He could have informed his 
Companions about it orally. But, he did not consider it to be sufficient. 
Instead, he had detailed executive orders written and placed in the 
custody of Sayyidna ‘Umar and Sayyidna ‘Amr ibn Hazam Jji ^. 
This clearly proves that the nisab (threshold) of Zakah, and the 
amount of Zakah in each nisab, have been fixed by Allah Ta‘ala and 
promulgated through His Messenger to remain valid forever. No one, 
at any time and in any country, has any right to decrease, increase, 
change or alter what has been prescribed. 

It is correct to say that the obligation of Sadaqah and Zakah was 
already decreed by revelation during the early stage of Islam in Mak- 
kah al-Mukarramah. Tafsir authority, Ibn Kathir has cited the verse of 
Surah Al-Muzzammil: ijSj .It (So, establish Salah and give 

Zakah - 73:20) in proof because this Surah is among those that belong 
to the initial period of revelation and, along with Salah, it carries the 
injunction of Zakah. However, the narratives of Hadith seem to indi¬ 
cate that, during the initial period of Islam, any particular nisab for 
Zakah, or a particular amount, was not fixed. In its absence, whatever 
was left behind after having served the needs of a Muslim was spent 
in the way of Allah. The fixation of nisab and the declaration of the 
amount of Zakah came after Hijrah in Madinah al-Taiyyibah. After 
that, the firmly established system of the receipts of Zakah and Sada- 
qat was something that came into existence only after the conquest of 
Makkah. 

This verse - with the consensus of the Sahabah and the Tabi'in - 
describes the disbursement of the same obligatory ( wajib ) Sadaqah 
which is obligatory on Muslims like Salah, because the heads of dis¬ 
bursement fixed in this verse are the heads of the obligatory Sadaqat. 
As for the voluntary ( Nafl ) Sadaqat, given the clear statements of Ha¬ 
dith narratives, their range is quite vast. To be precise, they are not 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


399 


restricted to these eight heads of expenditure. 

Though, in the verse appearing above, the general word: oUju* 
(Sadaqat) has been used - which apparently may include the obligato¬ 
ry and the voluntary both - but, there is a consensus of the Muslim 
Ummah, on the point that this verse refers only to the obligatory 
(i wajib ) Sadaqat. It appears in Tafsir al-Qurtubi that the word: 
(Sadaqah) whenever used in an absolute sense anywhere in the Qur’an 
- while there is no textual evidence to prove that it is voluntary Sada¬ 
qah - it invariably means obligatory Sadaqah at that place. 

This verse has been initiated with the word: lil ( innama ) which is 
used for restriction ihasr and inhisar). Thereby, the very first word in 
the beginning of the statement speaks for itself that the recipients of 
Sadaqat being enumerated next are obligatory Sadaqat and must, 
therefore, be spent on them. In fact, obligatory Sadaqat cannot be 
spent on any good cause other than them, such as, the preparation for 
Jihad or making masjids and religious schools or other institutions of 
public welfare. Though, all these projects are necessary and there is 
great reward for investing in them, but obligatory Sadaqat the quan¬ 
tum of which stands fixed cannot be applied to such projects. 

The second word: oliju* (Sadaqat) appearing in the verse is the plu¬ 
ral form of Sadaqah. Lexically, it denotes a portion of the wealth or 
property that is spent for the sake of Allah (Qamus). In Mufradat al- 
Qur’an, Imam Raghib al-Isfahani has said that Sadaqah is called Sada¬ 
qah because it is derived from the root of 'Sidq' which means 'truth' 
and the one who gives something in Sadaqah purports that he is true 
in his word and deed, he has no worldly motives and is spending for 
the pleasure of Allah only. Therefore, a Sadaqah mixed up with a de¬ 
sire to earn a fair name or to project one’s personality or any other 
worldly motive conceivable has been declared to be null and void by 
the Holy Qur’an. 

As stated earlier too, the word: (Sadaqah) is general in terms of 

its real meaning. It is used for voluntary Sadaqah as well as for obliga¬ 
tory Zakah. Its use for nafl (voluntary or supererogatory charity) is al¬ 
ready very common. However, it has also been used for fard (obligatory 
or prescribed alms) at several places in the Qur’an, for example: 

(Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah [obligatory alms] - 9 : 103 ) 
and the verse: iilSjl Uj,(The Sadaqat [prescribed alms] are only for ...) 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


400 


under discussion right now. In fact, according to the verification of 
commentator Al-Qurtubi, when the Qur’an mentions the word: 
(Sadaqah) in an absolute sense, it invariably means the fard 
(obligatory) Sadaqah. 

In Hadith narratives, the word: uju» (Sadaqah) has also been used 
for every good deed, for instance, says the Hadith: ‘Meeting a Muslim 
with a smile is also a Sadaqah.’ Or, ‘helping the bearer of a burden car¬ 
ry it is also a Sadaqah.’ Or, ‘to share the water drawn from a well for 
personal use with someone else is also a Sadaqah.’ In these Hadith ref¬ 
erences, the word: ( Sadaqah) has been used in its general sense 

with a figurative touch. 

The third word after that begins with: * l>ai (IV l-fuqara ’). It will be 
noted that the letter lam appears in the very beginning, a letter used 
to carry the sense of particularization. Therefore, the sentence would 
mean that all Sadaqat rightfully belong only to those who have been 
mentioned later. 

Now, we can go to a detailed description of the eight recipients 
mentioned after that: 

Out of these, the first category of recipients is that of al-fuqara’ 
(the poor) followed by the second which is that of al-masakin (the 
needy or indigent). There is, though, difference of opinion about the 
real meaning of ‘faqir’ and ‘ miskin.’ A ‘faqir’ is one who has nothing 
while a ‘ miskin is one who has less than the nisab} But, they remain 
the same under the injunction of Zakah. No difference exists there. 
The outcome is that a person who does not own wealth or property to 
the value of nisab in excess of his or her basic needs shall be a person 
to whom Zakah can be given and for that person too this taking of Za¬ 
kah is permissible. As for ‘basic needs,’ included therein is everything 
like the residential house, utensils in use, clothes and furniture etc. 
Anyone who has the nisab, that is, 7 1/2 tolas 2 gold, or 52 1/2 tolas 1 2 3 of 
silver, or its equivalent in cash — and is not in debt - then, it is not 
permissible for such a person to receive Zakah nor is it permissible for 


1. The minimum quantity or amount, or threshold of wealth or property 
liable to payment of obligatory Zakah (prescribed alms or poor-due) 

2. =87.48 grams. 

3. = 612.36 grams. 

2 & 3 as determined by Hadrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi Jji 
in his ■ 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


401 


anyone to give it to him. Similarly, a person who has some silver or 
cash and some gold and the combined market price equals the price of 
52 1/2 tolas (612.36 grams) of silver, then, this person too is deemed to 
have the nisab. It is not permissible for him to take Zakah nor is it per¬ 
missible for anyone to give it to him. But, a person who is not a man of 
nisab, however, is strong and healthy to earn his livelihood, and has 
enough for a day, then, giving Zakah to him is, no doubt, permissible 
but what is not permissible is that he goes about asking people to help 
him out. Many such people ignore this restriction not realizing that 
stretching their hands before others is Haram (unlawful). Whatever 
such a person acquires by soliciting has been equated by the Holy 
Prophet ,JL- j, *JU *JJI with an ember from Hell. (Abu Dawud, on the authori- 
ty of a report from Sayyidna ‘Ali, Qurtubi) 

So, the outcome is that there is no difference in a * faqir ’ and a 
‘miskin’ as far as Zakah is concerned. But, it does make a difference in 
the injunction of Wasiyyah (will). If a will is made for the ‘masakin,’ 
what kind of people will be eligible to receive the bequeathed amount? 
And if the will is made for 'fuqara what kind of people will be its recip¬ 
ients? There is no need to describe its details at this place. In brief, 
the common thing between the two categories — the ‘ faqir ’ and the 
‘miskin’ — is that whoever of the two receives from the property of Za¬ 
kah should be a Muslim and should not be the owner of property which 
is more than his basic needs, or the standard of nisab. 

Common Sadaqat can, however, be given to non-Muslims as well. 
The Holy Prophet jJ-, *1)1 has said: ffS j Ijili; (Give Sada- 
qah to people of all religions). But, about the Sadaqah of Zakah, the 
Holy Prophet Ju,j *Jlc *1)1 while sending Sayyidna Mu'adh ibn Jabal 
*^*. *1)1 ^>j to Yaman, had instructed him that Zakah should be taken 
from the rich among Muslims and be spent over their poor. Therefore, 
Zakah can be spent only among Muslim fuqara ’ (the poor) and masakin 
(the needy). However, with the exception of Zakah, it is permissible to 
give other Sadaqat - even the Sadaqatu ’l-Fifr - to a non-Muslim ‘faqir.’ 
(Hidayah) 

Incidentally, the second condition that a person should not be the 
owner of nisab mentioned a little earlier becomes self-evident from the 
very meaning of a ‘faqir’ and a ‘ miskin ’ - because, either he would have 
nothing or, at the least, would have less than the fixed amount of nis- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


402 


ab holdings. Therefore, a ‘faqir’ and a ‘miskin’ are common in the sense 
that they both do not possess property matching the standard value of 
nisab. After having mentioned these two categories of recipients, the 
text describes six more. Out of these, the the first (which is the third in 
the aggregate list) is that of the collectors of Sadaqah which has been 
described in the text as: 01 (and those employed to collect 

them). This refers to those who are appointed by the Islamic govern¬ 
ment to collect the Sadaqat of Zakah and ‘Ushr etc. from the people and 
deposit it in the Baytulmal (the state treasury). Since these appointees 
spend all their time in carrying out this service, therefore, taking care 
of their needs is a responsibility that falls on the Islamic government. 
This verse of the Qur’an has, by allotting a share to them in the dis¬ 
bursement of Zakah, has categorically determined that the payment 
for the services rendered by them shall be made from the head of Za¬ 
kah. 

Actually, Allah Ta'ala has entrusted the duty of taking Zakah and 
Sadaqat from Muslims directly with the Holy Prophet *Jlc *1)1 JL», as 
said in the verse: iiju. (Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah 

[obligatory alms] - 9:103) which appears later on in this very Surah. 
Detailed comments about it will be taken up there. However, it is suf¬ 
ficient to mention here that, in the light of this verse, the duty of tak¬ 
ing Zakah and Sadaqat has been placed on the shoulders of the Amir of 
Muslims. It is obvious that the Amir cannot carry out this duty all by 
himself throughout the country without functional executives and as¬ 
sistants. It is these executives and assistants who have been men¬ 
tioned in the words: 01 (and those employed to collect them). 

It was to implement the command given in these verses that the 
Holy Prophet jJl.j *JU *1)1 Jl* had sent many Companions as functional 
executives responsible for collecting Zakah and Sadaqat to many re¬ 
gions of the Islamic state. The payment he had made for the services 
rendered by them was, as instructed in the verse, from the very 
amount collected as Zakah. Included among such people were Sahabah 
who were rich. In Hadith, the Holy Prophet *_Lc *1)1 Jl^> said: sadaqah 
is not halal for anyone rich ( al-ghaniyy : owner of mal, that is, wealth 
and property) except five persons: (1) One who has set out for Jihad 
where he does not have necessary financial support with him - 
though, he may be rich back home. (2) The ‘Amil of Sadaqah (the collec- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


403 


tor) employed to carry out this duty. (3) One who, though, owns wealth 
and property, but is in debt for more than the worth of what he has. 
(4) One who buys Sadaqah property from a ‘ miskin ’ (needy person) 
against cash. (5) One who has been given a gift of property acquired as 
Sadaqah by some poor person Cfaqir). 

As for the problem of determining the proportion of the amount of 
money to be paid to those employed to collect Sadaqat, the answer lies 
in the rule that it will be paid in accordance with the status of their 
working hours and performance. (Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an and Qurtub!) 

Of course, it will be necessary that the salaries of the employees do 
not go higher than a half of the total Zakah. If the collection of Zakah 
is low, so low that, after the disbursement of salaries to employees, not 
even that half remains available, then, salaries would have to be re¬ 
duced. More than half shall not be spent. (Tafslr Mazharf, Zahiriyyah) 

What has been said above shows that the amount of money given 
to those employed to collect Sadaqah from the head of Zakah is not giv¬ 
en to them as Sadaqah, instead of which, it is a payment in return for 
their service. Therefore, they deserve to get this amount despite being 
rich - and it is permissible to give this amount to them from the Zakah 
funds. Out of the eight heads of Zakah disbursement, this is the only 
head in which the amount of Zakah is given as payment in return for 
services rendered. Otherwise, Zakah is the very name of the gift given 
to the poor without being a return for any services - and if a poor per¬ 
son was given something from Zakah funds against some service ren¬ 
dered, Zakah remained unpaid. 

For this reason, two questions arise here - firstly, how was Zakah 
property given in return for services rendered, and secondly, how 
could this Zakah property become halal (lawful) for the rich person? 
Both these questions have the same answer — that we should under¬ 
stand the real status of those employed to collect Sadaqah. The status 
of these employees is that of the authorized representatives of al- 
fuqara,’ the poor ones, and everyone knows that the taking of posses¬ 
sion by an authorized representative is regarded to be as good as the 
possession taken by the principal himself. If a person makes someone 
his representative authorized to recover his debt and the other person 
in debt hands over the amount of debt to this authorized representa¬ 
tive, then, soon after the possession taken by the representative, the li- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 ; 60 


404 


ability of the debtor stands discharged. So, when the amount of Zakah 
has been recovered by those employed to collect it in their capacity as 
the authorized representatives of the poor, i.e. the fuqara’, then, the 
amount of Zakah received from people stands duly paid. Now, this 
whole amount lies under the ownership of the fuqara’ on whose behalf 
the ‘amilin have received it in the capacity of their authorized repre¬ 
sentative. Hence, the amount given to them in return for their services 
is in fact given to them by the 'fuqara" as a compensation of services 
they have rendered for them, because once zakah is received by a faqir 
or his agent, he may give it to anyone against his services. 

Now remains the question: The fuqara’ never made these people 
their authorized representatives. How, then, did they become their 
agents in fact? The answer is that the head of a Muslim State (the 
’Amir) has been appointed by Allah Ta'ala as a representative of all the 
poor to collect and disburse zakah on their behalf. The logical conse¬ 
quence of this arrangement is that the persons appointed by an ’Amir, 
being his deputies, are also taken to be the representatives of the poor. 

To sum up, that which was given to those employed to collect Sada- 
qat (prescribed alms) was really no Zakah as such. Instead of that, it 
was given to them as compensation in return for the service rendered 
by them on behalf of the poor recipients of Zakah. It is like a poor per¬ 
son making someone an attorney for his case and paying for his servic¬ 
es from what he has received from Zakah funds. In this situation, the 
payment of attorney's fee cannot be termed as the payment of Zakah. 

Special Note 

Details given above also tell us that those who collect Sadaqat and 
Zakah for Islamic religious schools and organizations (without being 
appointed by an Islamic state for that purpose) are not included in 
'‘amilin' (collectors of zakah ) as contemplated in the Holy Qur’an. 

The reason is that neither the individual poor persons have author¬ 
ized them to receive zakah on their behalf, nor the head of an Islamic 
state has appointed them as such. Their correct position is that the za¬ 
kah - payers have made them their agent to disburse zakah among the 
deserving people. Therefore, they can neither draw their salaries from 
zakah, nor can the obligation of a zakah- payer be discharged by their 
possession, unless they pay it to a person entitled to receive zakah. 



Surah AI-Taubah : 9 : 60 


405 


Generally, serious negligence is shown in this matter. Many insti¬ 
tutions collect Zakah funds and keep it for years. Zakah payers think 
that their Zakah stands paid - although, their Zakah will stand paid 
only when the amount given by them has been disbursed in favor of its 
recipients. 

Similarly, there are many others who would unknowingly take 
such people to be included under the Qur’anic injunction about the col¬ 
lectors of Sadaqah and go on to pay their salaries from the funds of Za¬ 
kah itself. This is non-permissible, for the givers and the takers both. 

Another Question: Payment for ‘Ibadah 

Another question should be clarified here. It is inferred from some 
Qur’anic indicators and narrations of Hadith that taking wages and 
compensation on ‘Ibadah is haram (unlawful, forbidden). The Musnad 
of Ahmad reports a Hadith from Sayyidna ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Shibl 
jllp JLlI according to which the Holy Prophet (Juj *Jlc d)l Jl* has said: 
juJ jl/ *(jVj Ijljj l (Recite the Qur’an but do not eat by means of it). In 
some other reports, the compensation taken on the Qur’an has been 
called a piece of Hell. It is on this basis that many jurists of Muslim 
Ummah have held that the taking of wages or compensation for any 
act of‘Ibadah (worship) is not permissible. Then, it is also evident that 
the function of collecting prescribed alms is a religious mission and an 
act of‘ibadah. The Holy Prophet *Jj. JLll has called it a kind of Ji¬ 
had. According to this principle it should not have been lawful to re¬ 
ceive any remuneration for collecting zakah. But, this verse of the Holy 
Qur’an has clearly declared it to be permissible and has included it as 
one of the eight heads under which Zakah can be disbursed. 

Imam al-Qurtubi has taken up this question in his Commentary. 
He has said that taking compensation for ‘Ibadat (acts of worship) that 
are obligatory ( fard) or compulsory individually (wajib al-‘ain) is abso¬ 
lutely haram (unlawful). But, taking any compensation for duties 
called fard al-kifayah is permissible in accordance with this very verse. 
Fard al-Kifayah means that a duty has been imposed on the entire 
Muslim community or on a whole city as a collective obligation. But, it 
is not the duty of every individual to do it. If some of the people there 
fulfill the duty, the rest stand absolved. Yes - if no one does it - every¬ 
one becomes a sinner. 

Imam al-Qurtubi has also said that this very verse proves that 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


406 


taking a compensation for leading congregational prayers ( Imamah) 
and delivering sermons ( Khitabah ) is also permissible - because, they 
too are wajib al-Kifayah (compulsory in the degree of sufficiency) and 
not wajib-al-‘ain (compulsory individually). Similarly, the areas of 
teaching Qur’an, Hadith and other religious sciences are no different. 
These are duties that must be carried out. The entire Muslim Ummah 
is responsible for it. This is Fard al-Kifayah on the community. If some 
people fulfill this obligation, others stand absolved. Therefore, if some 
compensation or salary is taken for it, that too will be permissible. 

The fourth among the eight categories of recipients of Zakah is that 
of‘people whose hearts are to be won.’ The Qur’an calls them: iiJ> 

These were people who were given Sadaqat so that their attitude to¬ 
wards Islam could be mollified. The general impression about this cat¬ 
egory is that it included both Muslims and non-Muslims. The object 
was to persuade non-Muslims in favor of Islam and neo-Muslims to be¬ 
come more firm. Those who were already staunch Muslims were 
helped to guide their people right through such measures. Then, there 
were people among non-Muslims whose evil had to be avoided through 
a policy of appeasement. And there were people who would listen to no 
sermon or sword. The only language they understood was the lan¬ 
guage of favor and generosity. They too came closer to reconciliation 
through this policy. At that time, the Holy Prophet ^JLij Jji JL* did 
whatever was legally possible to bring people from the darkness of dis¬ 
belief into the light of faith. However, after the passing away of the 
Holy Prophet ^ *Jlc *lJl Islam had become politically strong and the 
initial plans to avoid the threat of disbelievers or to provide support to 
neo-Muslims did not remain valid anymore. What was expedient then 
had lost its expediency. So, that share also came to an end. Some Mus¬ 
lim jurists have taken the position that it has been ‘abrogated.’ This 
position is attributed to Sayyidna ‘Umar dll Hasan al-Basri, Abu 
Hanifah and Malik ibn Anas, may the mercy of Allah be upon them. 

However, many others hold that the share of this category has not 
been abrogated. That it was allowed to lapse during the period of 
Sayyidna Abu Bakr and ‘Umar dJl means that it was allowed to 
lapse because there was no need for it. However, if such a need does 
come up at some later time, it could be given again. This is the juristic 
view of Imam Zuhri, Qadi ‘Abd al-Wahhab, ibn al-‘Arabi, Imams Shafi‘i 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


407 


and Ahmad. But, the most authentic position is that non-Muslims 
were never given a share from Sadaqat at any time whatsoever, nor 
are they included under the category of mu’allafah al-quloob as con¬ 
templated in the present verse 60. 


In his Tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi has given a detailed list of people to 
whom the Holy Prophet JJI had given a share from the head 

of Sadaqat. The purpose was to win their hearts through persuasion. 
At the end of his list, Al-Qurtubi has this to say: 

j>\£ It means: ‘To sum it up, it can be said that all recipients under this 
category were Muslims and there was no kafir included therein.’ 


Similarly, it appears in Tafsir Mazhari: *\cC2fp 

j fjryl I hi LjyzyJj&J) 'JZ lliflt means: ‘There is no report to prove that the 
Holy Prophet jJl-j *L)l has ever given a share to a kafir 
(disbeliever) from Zakah property in order to persuade him favorably.’ 
This is supported by what is said in Tafsir al-Kashshaf: ‘The details of 
the recipients of Sadaqat have been given here to refute the allegations 
of disbelievers and hypocrites who used to raise objections against the 
Holy Prophet jJLj .uit dJl Ju=. that he did not give them their share from 
the Sadaqat. The purpose of giving these details in this verse is to tell 
them that disbelievers had no right in Sadaqah properties. If the dis¬ 
believers were also included under the category of mu’allafah al- 
quloob, there was no need for this answer in refutation. 


Tafsir Mazhari has also clarified the error into which some people 
have fallen because of some Hadith narratives which seem to prove 
that the Holy Prophet *Jlc JL)l has given gifts to some non- 
Muslims. For example, there is a report in the Sahih of Muslim and 
Tirmidhi which says that the Holy Prophet ±±c. JJl gave some 
gifts to Safwan ibn Umayyah when he was a kafir. About it, quoting 
Imam al-Nawawi, the author of the Tafsir says that these gifts were 
not from Zakah. Rather, they were given from the khums (one- fifth) of 
the spoils of the battle of Hunain deposited in the Baitu'l-Mal - and it 
is obvious that spending from this head of the Baitu'l-Mal both on 
Muslims or non-Muslims is permissible under the consensus of Mus¬ 
lim jurists. Then, he says: Imam al-Baihaqi, Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, Imam 
Ibn Kathir and others have concurred that this gift was not given from 
Zakah, but was given from the one-fifth of spoils. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


408 


A useful supplementary note 

From here we also come to know that wealth and property belong¬ 
ing to Sadaqat were, though, deposited in the Baitu'l-Maf during the 
blessed period of the Holy Prophet ,jLj *JLc Jil himself, but they were 
kept under a totally separate account. Similarly, other heads of the 
Baitu'l-Mal, such as, the Khums of Ghanimah (one-fifth of spoils) or the 
Khums of Ma'adin (one-fifth of mines and quarries) etc., had their own 
separate accounts and modes of disbursement. Muslim jurists have 
given details in this connection. According to them there should be 
four heads of accounts in the Baitu'l-Mal separate from 7 each other. 
The main instruction given is that keeping the accounts separate is 
not enough, instead of that, each head should have a separate Baitu'l- 
Mal so that each one of them exercises full control when spending it on 
approved recipients and categories. Of course, if a particular head fac¬ 
es shortage of funds, these can be borrowed from another head of ac¬ 
counts and spent as necessary. These heads of the Baitu'l-Mal are as 
follows: 

1. Khums al-Ghanaim: The One-Fifth of Spoils: This is property 
acquired from disbelievers as an outcome of war. Out of its five shares, 
four are distributed among Mujahidin while the fifth share is the right 
of the Baitu'l-Mal. Then, there is the one-fifth of mines (Khums al- 
Ma‘adin). A one-fifth of whatever is mined from different kinds of 
quarries is the right of the Baitu'l-Mal. Then, there is the one-fifth of 
buried treasures. This is known as the Khums of Rikaz. It refers to 
any old treasure dug out of the ground. A one-fifth of this too is the 
right of the Baitu'l-Mal. All these three kinds of Khums (one-fifth) are 
included in one single head of the Baitu’l-Mal. 

2. §adaqat: This includes Zakah, Sadaqatu ’1-Fitr, and ‘Ushr of 
their lands paid by Muslims. 

3. Kharaj and Fai’ Property which includes tax collected from 
lands owned by non-Muslims, Jizyah paid by them, taxes on commer¬ 
cial enterprises run by them ( al-kharaj ) and it included all properties 
acquired from non-Muslims with their consent and agreement ( al-fai ’). 

4. Dawa’i* (Lost properties) which included what lost or remained 
unclaimed as well as property left by a person having no heir. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


409 


Though, expenditures under these four heads are separate, but the 
right of the poor and the needy has been set aside in all four of these 
heads. This shows the particular care taken to empower the weaker 
section of the society - a certain hallmark of the Muslim state indeed. 
Otherwise, elite classes keep getting the opportunities to grow among 
usual social systems of the world at the expense of the poor ones. The 
poor never see their day. What came up as a reaction of this situation 
in the form of socialism and communism was far from being natural. 
In fact, it was like running from the rain and resting under the drain 
pipe, not to say much about its harmful effects for human morals. 

To sum up, an Islamic government has four Baitu'l-Mals for four 
different heads with the right of the poor and needy secured in all 
four. The expenditures of the first three among these have been fixed 
and explained clearly by the Holy Qur’an as follows. The description of 
the expenditures of the first head, that is, of the one-fifth of spoils 
(Khums al-Ghanaim) appears at the beginning of the tenth part in Su¬ 
rah Al-Anfal (verse 41). The description of the expenditures of the sec¬ 
ond head, that is, of Sadaqat has been taken up in verse 60 of Surah Al- 
Taubah that is under study right now. The third head, technically 
known as the property of al-fai’, finds a detailed mention in Surah Al- 
Hashr. Many expenditures of the Islamic government, such as, those 
on the military, and on the salaries of civil servants, are disbursed 
from this head. The fourth head of al-Dawa’i‘ covered lost or unclaimed 
property or property having no inheritor. It was set aside for the dis¬ 
abled, the handicapped, destitute men and women and abandoned 
children, following the practice and teachings of the Holy Prophet 
iJL.j <lJl£ *1)1 to which the rightly guided Caliphs of Islam, faithfully ad¬ 
hered. (Shaml, Kitabu’z-Zakah) 

Incidentally, the saying of Muslim jurists, that the four heads of 
the Baitu'l-Mal should be kept separate and that the expenditures 
therein should be incurred as approved, has its proof in the Qur’an, 
the practice of the Holy Prophet *JLc *1)1 and the adherence of the 
rightly guided Caliphs to that practice. 

After this supplementary note, we can now revert to the original is¬ 
sue of mu’allafah al-quloob. It is already established that no zakah was 
paid to a non-Muslim under this category. Therefore, they stand ex¬ 
cluded from the recipients of zakah. Now, left there are the new Mus- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


410 


lims who can fall under this head. All the Muslim jurists are unani¬ 
mous on the point that the poor new Muslims are eligible to get their 
share under this category. However, there is a difference of opinion 
about the rich ones. Imam Shafi‘1 and Imam Ahmad are of the view 
that all the Muslim converts who need a sympathetic attitude to make 
them firm on Islamic beliefs can receive zakah under the category of 
'mu’allafah-al-quloob' even though they are not poor in the sense that 
they own the nisab. The basic principle according to them is that 
poverty is not a condition for the eligibility for zakah under each head 
from the eight categories mentioned in the verse. On the contrary, 
Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik are of the view that Muslim 
'mu’allafah-al-quloob' can be given zakah only if they are poor and do 
not own the nisab. If they own the nisab, they cannot receive zakah 
even under this category. Both these Imams hold that poverty is the 
basic condition for all the eight categories mentioned in the verse, with 
the sole exception of‘amilIn' as explained earlier. The debtors, the 
wayfarers and the slaves as well can receive zakah only if they are 
poor in their given state of affairs, even though may have wealth 
otherwise. 

This explanation shows that despite their difference of opinion in 
this particular aspect, all of them agree on the point that ‘mu’allafah 
al-qulub’ as a category of the recepients of zakah still holds good and 
has never been repealed or abrogated. 

Up to this point, four out of the eight recipients of Sadaqat have 
been identified. The right of these four has been introduced with the 
addition of the letter lam as in: tffilili’l-fuqara’ wa’l-masakin: for 

the poor and for the needy). The form has been changed while men¬ 
tioning the next four recipients where the initial letter lam has been 
replaced with the letter fi as in: (and in [freeing] slaves 

and in [releasing] those in debt). Al-Zamakhshari has given a reason 
for this nuance of language in his Tafsir al-ltashshaf. According to 
him, this is a device employed to indicate that the last four recipients 
are more deserving as compared to the first four, because the letter fi 
is used to denote attending circumstances or conditions which yields 
the meaning that Sadaqat should be placed ‘in’ or within these people. 
Then, the reason for their being more deserving is their being more in 
need - because, a slave owned by someone suffers more as compared to 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


411 


poor people in general. Similarly, a person in debt hounded by his 
lenders is in deeper trouble as compared to common poor and needy 
for he has the additional worry as to how he is going to pay off his debt 
which is certainly more disturbing than the rest of his usual needs. 

Out of the remaining four categories of recipients, the first one 
mentioned here is that of kjiijJl ^jiwa fi ’r-riqab: and in [freeing] 
slaves). Riqab is the plural form of raqabah. Actually, it means the 
neck. But, in recognized usage, it is also used to allude to a person 
whose neck is shackled in the chains of slavery. 

What is the meaning of ar-riqab in this verse? Interpretations of 
jurists differ. The majority of jurists and Hadith experts agree that it 
refers to slaves who enter into a deal with their masters that they 
would earn the amount specified by them, give it to them as they earn, 
and once the agreed amount is paid off, they shall be free. In the ter¬ 
minology of the Qur’an and Suhnah, such a slave is known as muka- 
tab' The master of such a slave allows him to earn through business or 
employment and give the income to the master. In the present verse, fi 
’r-riqab means that this person should be helped to secure his freedom 
from his master who should be given a share from Zakah funds to 
write off the amount due against the slave. 

There is a consensus of commentators and jurists that this kind of 
slaves is the intended sense of the expression: olibl ,jj(wa fi r’riqab : 
and in [freeing] slaves) which requires that they should be helped to 
become free by paying the amount due from Zakah funds. In cases oth¬ 
er than this, such as, buying other slaves and setting them free, or en¬ 
tering into a deal with their masters that they would set them free 
against an agreed amount of Zakah, there is a difference of opinion 
among major Muslim jurists. The majority of the Imams of Islamic ju¬ 
risprudence - Abu Hanifah, Shafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others, may 
the mercy of Allah be on all of them - do not take this to be permissi¬ 
ble. Imam Malik agrees with the majority in one version ( riwayah ) 
only when he declares the sense of fi r’riqab as restricted to mukatab 
slaves (on freedom-against-money deal with master). In another ver¬ 
sion (riwayah), it has also been reported from Imam Malik that he in¬ 
cluded common slaves under the definition of fi ’r-riqab as well as gave 
the permission to buy slaves from Zakah amounts and free them. 
(Ahkam al-Qur’an ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maliki) 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9.60 


412 


The majority of Imams and jurists, who do not consider it permissi¬ 
ble, have a juristic difficulty in doing so. If a slave was bought from Za¬ 
kah funds, and freed, the problem is that the very definition of Sada- 
qah does not fit right in his case - because, Sadaqah is a property 
given to someone deserving without getting something in return. Now, 
should the amount of Zakah be given to the master, then, it is obvious 
that he is neither deserving of Zakah, nor the amount of money being 
given to him is without an expected return. As for the slave, who is de¬ 
serving of Zakah, the amount was never given to him personally. This 
is another matter that the benefit of the amount paid to the master 
somehow reached the slave in that he was bought and freed. But, free¬ 
ing does not get to be included under the definition of Sadaqah - and 
why would someone surrender the real meaning without any reason 
and go by the figurative or general sense of Sadaqah unnecessarily? 
This has no justification. Then, it is also obvious that, in the subject 
verse, what is being described is nothing but the categories of the re¬ 
cipients of Zakah. Therefore, anything to which the definition of Sada¬ 
qah does not fit simply cannot be meant by fi ’r-riqab. And if, this 
amount was to be given to the slave himself, then, the slave does not 
have the right to own. The result will be that it will automatically be¬ 
come the property of the master. Then, the matter of releasing or not 
releasing the slave will also continue to be in the control of his master. 

It is because of this juristic difficulty that the majority of Imams 
and jurists hold the view that the Qur’anic expression: ^>\X)\ {fi ’r- 
riqab ) refers to mukatab slaves only. This also tells us about the stan¬ 
dard rule of conduct in this matter. To give Sadaqah properly, the con¬ 
dition is that its giver makes a deserving person its owner and sees to 
it that the amount has passed into his possession - because, until the 
deserving person has taken the amount in his possession, as its owner, 
Zakah remains unpaid. 

The sixth category of recipients: {al-gharimin\ and in 

[releasing] those in debt) is the plural of gharim which means a person 
in debt. It has been mentioned earlier that the fifth and sixth catego¬ 
ries of recipients introduced with the letter fi are ahead of the first four 
recipients in their claim of preference. Therefore, giving out to free a 
slave or to release a person from debt is more merit worthy than giv¬ 
ing to the poor and the needy in general. However, the condition is 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


413 


that the person in debt does not have enough funds to pay off that debt 
- because, lexically, the word: gharim is applied only to such a person 
in debt. And some Imams also add a condition that this person should 
not have borrowed for something impermissible. If someone goes in 
debt for something sinful, such as, to pay for liquor and its likes, or 
spends on impermissible customs of marriages and deaths, then, such 
a client will not be helped from the head of Zakah so that he is not en¬ 
couraged in his sin and extravagance. 

The seventh category of disbursement appears in the words: 
ill (fi sabilillah : in the way of Allah). It will be noted that the letter fi 
has been repeated here once again. According to Tafsir al-Kashshaf, 
the purpose of this repetition is to indicate that this area of expendi¬ 
ture is more merit worthy as compared to those mentioned earlier. It 
has two benefits. The first is helping a poor person. The second is 
assisting in a religious cause. The reason is that fi sabilillah either 
denotes a mujahid who does not have the means to buy necessary 
weapons and war supplies, or it means the person who must fulfill the 
obligation of H ajj but who does not have the necessary financial 
support to complete his due duty. These two duties are purely 
religious. They are acts of worship. Therefore, by spending Zakah 
funds on them one helps a poor person and supports someone do his 
‘Ibadah. On the same analogy, Muslim jurists have included students 
of the schools of Islamic learning under this category as they too take 
it to fulfill what is an act of ‘Ibadah in the way of Allah. (Ruh al-Ma‘am 
with reference to Zahiriyyah) 

The author of Bada’i' has said that one who wishes to undertake an 
act of sincere ‘Ibadah and needs financial support to do it will be taken 
as included in the category of fi sabilillah - subject to the condition that 
he does not have enough funds to carry it out. The work of teaching 
and transmitting religion along with the establishment of allied 
institutions of promotion and publication are some examples. If 
someone deserving Zakah elects to take up this work, he may be 
helped out with Zakah funds, but this help cannot be extended to a 
rich man who owns the nisab. 

Details appearing above show that all explanations of fi sabilillah 
(in the way of Allah) under different circumstances carry the condition 
of poverty and need alongside. The rich man who owns the nisab does 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


414 


not have a share in this head too - except that his present holdings 
may be insufficient for the needs of Jihad or Hajj he is going to under¬ 
take. Call him rich because he has property above the nisab. In fact, 
such a person has been called rich in Hadith. But, in the final analysis, 
he too turns out to be a poor and needy person in terms of the amount 
of funds he needs for Jihad or Hajj - and this he does not have with 
him! Shaykh ibn Humam has said in Fath al-Qadir: The words used to 
describe recipients mentioned in the verse of Sadaqat prove that they 
deserve what they do on the basis of poverty and need. The words for 
the poor and the needy are obvious by themselves. Other words used 
for freeing of slaves, releasing from debt, in the way of Allah and for 
the wayfarer also suggest that they receive shares to alleviate their 
needs. However, those employed to collect Sadaqat receive their share 
in return for the services rendered by them. Therefore, in that, the 
rich and the poor are equal. This is similar to what has been briefly 
mentioned earlier under the category of ‘those in debt.’ A person owes 
a debt of Rupees ten thousand. 1 He has Rupees five thousand with 
him. He can be given Zakah up to Rs. Five thousand, because the 
funds he has with him will be taken as not with him due to the debt. 

A word of Caution 

The literal meaning of fi sabIlill ah is very general and very com¬ 
mon. Anything done for the good pleasure of Allah is included under fi 
sabilillah in the light of this popular sense. Unfortunately, there are 
people who wish to understand the Qur’an through a literal transla¬ 
tion alone. They would skip the explanations and statements of the 
Holy Prophet JLj *1)1 J-o and ignore the sayings of major commenta¬ 
tors. As a result, they fall into error. One such error shows up when 
they look at fi sabilillah and find it spacious enough to accommodate 
everything they fancy. Under this head of Zakah, they have included 
everything that is considered to be good or religious. Under this um¬ 
brella, they have included the building of mosques, religious schools, 
hospitals, inns, even the provision of public services like wells, bridges 
and roads. Then, they do not seem to forget the salaries and contin¬ 
gent expenses of the institutions of public service. All these, they in¬ 
clude under fi sabilillah and declare them to be worth receiving Zakah 
funds. This is absolutely wrong and very much against the consensus 

1. Approximately a little less than $200. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


415 


of the Muslim Ummah. This is something already decided clearly and 
categorically. There are statements of the noble Sahabah, the direct 
disciples of the Holy Prophet jJLj Jji JU. They had learnt and under¬ 
stood the Qur’an from him. Then, there are explanations of this ex¬ 
pression passed on to us from the most learned authorities from 
among the Tabi'in. All of them restrict the expression to Hujjaj and 
Mujahidin. 

It appears in a Hadith that someone had given a camel as religious 
endowment in the way of Allah (fi sabilillah). For it, the Holy Prophet 
Juj *Jlc All said: ‘Use this camel to carry Hujjaj (Hajj pilgrims) on 
their journey.’ (Al-Mabsut, Al-Sarakhsi, p. 10, v. 3) 

Imams Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir are known exegetes who limit 
themselves to explaining the Qur’an through Hadith reports only. They 
both have particularized fi sabilillah with mujahidin and hujjaj who do 
not have the wherewithal necessary for Jihad or Hajj. As for jurists 
who have included students in religion or servants of good causes in 
this category, they have done so subject to the condition that they 
should be poor and needy. And it is obvious that the poor and the 
needy are in themselves the first among the recipients of Zakah. Even 
if they were not included under the sense of fi sabilillah , still they 
would have deserved receiving Zakah. But, no one from among the four 
Imams and jurists of Muslim Ummah ever said that expenditures on 
institutions of public welfare, building of mosques and religious 
schools and the rest of their functional needs are included under the 
head of Zakah disbursements. In fact, they have made it very clear 
that spending Zakah funds for this purpose is impermissible. Jurists 
from different schools of Islamic jurisprudence have written about it in 
great details. The names of some of them are being given as follows: 
HanafT jurist Al-Sarakhsi in al-Mabsut Lp. 202,v. 2] and Sharh al-Siyar [p. 
244, v. 4], Shafi‘1 jurist Abu ‘Ubayd in Kitab al-Amwal, Maliki jurist 
Dardir in Sharh Mukhtasar al-Khalil [p.161, v. l] and Al-muwaffaq in 
al-Mughni. 

Other than the clarifications from authorities of Tafsir and jurists 
of Islam referred to earlier, a little thought over this matter will help 
us understand the problem quickly. Let us think for a moment. If this 
field of Zakah was so all-embracing that it could accommodate spend¬ 
ing on every act of worship and virtue, then, the identification of these 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


416 


eight recipients in the Qur’an becomes (God forbid) totally redundant. 
So does the statement of the Holy Prophet ( Jl— j *Jlc *1)1 cited earlier 
where he said that Allah Ta'ala has not delegated the authority to de¬ 
termine the recipients of Sadaqat even to a prophet, in fact, He has 
Himself determined the eight categories of its recipients. This tells us 
that the element of universal application visible to an unaware person 
from a literal translation of fi sabilillah (in the way of Allah) is not 
what Allah means. Instead, it means what stands proved from the 
words of the Holy Prophet ^ *Jit *1)1 and the related clarifications of 
the Sahabah and the Tabi‘in. 

The eighth category of Zakah disbursement is: J~_Jl (ibn al-sabll: 
wayfarer). Sabil means way and the word: (ibn) is used essentially 
for a son. But, in Arab usage, the words: (ibn: son), o 1 (ab: father) and 
£1 (akh: brother) etc. are also used for things which are deeply related 
with someone. It is according to this usage that a wayfarer is referred 
to as ‘ibn al-sabil’ - for the simple reason that a wayfarer is deeply re¬ 
lated to traversing distances and reaching destinations. As a technical 
term of Zakah categories, it means a traveler who does not have neces¬ 
sary funds with him, even if he may be a rich person in his home coun¬ 
try. Zakah may be given to such a traveler so that he can satisfy his 
needs en route and return home in peace. 

At this point, the discussion about the eight categories of recipients 
of Sadaqat and Zakah mentioned in verse 60 has reached its comple¬ 
tion. Now, follow some other religious issues which relate to all these 
categories equally. 

The issue of Tamlik (Transfer of Ownership) 

The majority of Muslim jurists agrees that, even in the fixed eight 
categories of recipients, the condition for a valid payment of Zakah is 
that someone deserving should be given possession of Zakah property 
as its owner. If money was spent for the benefit of these very people - 
without having made them possess it as its owner - Zakah will remain 
unpaid. This is the reason why the four Imams and the majority of 
Muslim jurists agree that it is not permissible to spend Zakah funds 
either on the construction of mosques, religious schools, hospitals and 
orphanages, or on other functional needs related to them. There is no 
doubt that the benefit of such projects does reach the poor, and all oth¬ 
ers who qualify as Zakah recipients, but the fact that these things 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


417 


have not passed on into their possession as owners makes Zakah in¬ 
valid. 

However, in orphanages where meals and clothes are given to or¬ 
phans as being owned by them, then, it is possible to spend Zakah 
funds to the extent of this specific expenditure. Similarly, the cost of 
the medicine supplied to the poor in need, by making them its owner, 
could be charged to the Zakah fund. Likewise, Muslim jurists say that 
the coffin of an heirless dead body cannot be provided from Zakah 
funds, because the deceased is not capable of becoming an owner. Yes, 
it is possible that the amount of Zakah is given to someone poor and 
deserving - and he, out of his free will, spends this amount on the cof¬ 
fin of the heirless deceased. In the same manner, if this deceased per¬ 
son is in debt, this debt cannot be paid off from Zakah funds directly. 
Yes, if the deceased person’s inheritors are poor and deserve Zakah, 
then the amount can be given to them with the right to possess and 
own it. Once they become the ‘owner’ of this amount, they can - out of 
their choice and free will - vacate the debt of the deceased from this 
amount. Correspondingly, as pointed out earlier, the construction of 
public works does bring benefits for those who deserve Zakah, but be¬ 
cause they have no right of ownership established into the arrange¬ 
ment, Zakah remains invalid. 

As we have said before, all four Mujtahid Imams - Abu Hanifah, 
Shafi‘i, Malik and Ahmad ibn Hanbal - as well as the majority of Mus¬ 
lim jurists agree with these rulings. Further clarifications appear in 
easily available writings of jurists from the four schools of Islamic ju¬ 
risprudence. 

Also added here are a few points not mentioned during the earlier 
discussion. 

The Shafi'i jurist, Imam Abu ‘Ubayd has said in Kitabu ’1-Amwal 
that it was not permissible to spend Zakah funds to pay off the debt 
owed by a deceased person, or in paying the cost of his funeral, or to 
build masajid, or to dig canals for public use. Imam Sufyan al-Thawri 
and other Imams concur with the ruling that spending on these under¬ 
takings leaves Zakah unpaid - because, these are not one of those 
eight heads of expenditure mentioned in the Qur’an. 

Similarly, the Hanbali jurist, Al-muwaffaq has said in al-Mughni 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


418 


that spending Zakah funds on any undertaking of public service - oth¬ 
er than the areas of spending mentioned in the Qur’an - is not permis¬ 
sible. Building mosques, bridges, and drinking water facilities or re¬ 
pairing public roads, supplying coffins for the deceased, feeding guests 
and other undertakings of this nature are apparent examples. No 
doubt, they are reward worthy deeds, but are not included under the 
specified expenditures ofSadaqat {zakah). 

The well-recognized author of Bada’i‘, while discussing the condi¬ 
tion of ‘ tamlik’ (the act of transferring the possession and ownership to 
the recipient) as basic to making the payment of Zakah proper and val¬ 
id, has also provided textual proof for it. In the Qur’an, he points out, 
Zakah and obligatory Sadaqat have been generally mentioned with the 
word: < UJ (’ita’ meaning giving in the sense of granting, offering). Listed 
here are some examples of the use of this word: lyZlif 

;lj!Sj)l(Establish Salah and give Zakah - 2:277; 9:5,11; 22:41); IjStj "Ijllsl 

(Establish Salah and give Zakah - 2:43,83,110; 4:77; 22:78; 24:56; 73:20); 

S&l/iJlJzjl r jj|, (establishment of Salah and giving of Zakah - 21:73; 
24:37) and (give its due [Zakah] on the day of its harvest - 

6:141). So, lexically this word is used in the sense of giving as gift. 
Imam Raghib al-Isfahani says in Mufradat al-Qur’an Jii-j i lL£*/l * 

oTjj&l(The word al-’ita ’ [giving] means giving as gift; pre¬ 
senting and the giving of the obligatory Sadaqah has been particularly 
associated with this word in the Qur’an). Thus, the real sense of pre¬ 
senting something to someone as gift could be no other but that the re¬ 
cipient has been made its owner. 

Firstly, the use of the word al-’ita’ in that sense is not restricted to 
Zakah and Sadaqat only. It has actually been used in the Qur’an in the 
very sense of making someone an owner of what is given, for instance: 

ljj|'(give women their dowers - 4:4). It is obvious that the pay¬ 
ment of dower is recognized as valid only when the husband has 
passed on the amount of dower into the possession and ownership of 
his wife. 

Secondly, Zakah has been expressed by the alternate word: Sada¬ 
qah in the Holy Qur’an: .l^uD cJjuaJI Ul (The Sadaqat [prescribed alms] 
are only for the poor - 60). This is a subtle explanation because Sada¬ 
qah, in the real sense, means to let a poor person possess, own (and 
spend it at will). 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


419 


It should be borne in mind that feeding someone out of mercy or 
spending in public welfare projects is not called Sadaqah in the real 
sense. Shaykh ibn al-Humam says in Fath al-Qadlr: ‘Making a poor 
person the owner of what is being given is Sadaqah in the real sense.’ 
Similarly, Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas has said in Ahkam al-Qur’an: ‘The 
word: «ju> (Sadaqah) is another name for Tamlik (transfer of owner¬ 
ship).’ (Jassa§, p. 152, v. 2) 

Some Important points about the Proper Payment of Zakah 

One point arises out of a Sahih Hadith where the Holy Prophet jfr 
had given instructions about the collection of Sadaqat to Sayyidna 
Mu'adh ibn Jabal by saying: ^ uii : ‘Take it (Sadaqat) 

from the rich among them (Muslims) and disburse it back to the poor 
among them.’ Based on this, Muslim jurists have said that the Zakah 
of a city or township should not be sent to another city or township 
without the need to do so. Instead of that, poor people living in the 
same city or township are more deserving of it. Of course, if the near 
relatives of a person are poor, and live in another city, then, he can 
send his Zakah to them - because, the Holy Prophet JLy -Jjl has 
given the glad tidings of a two-fold reward in that situation. 

Likewise, if the state of poverty and hunger prevailing in another 
township appears to be more acute than the condition in one’s own city 
of residence, then, it can be sent there as well - because, the purpose 
of giving Sadaqat is to remove the need of poor people. This was the 
reason why Sayyidna Mu‘adh used to accept clothes as part of the Sad¬ 
aqat paid in Yaman so that he could send these for the poor emigrants 
of Madinah. (al-Qurtubi with reference to Darqutni) 

If a person lives in a certain city while his property is located in 
another, then, the city where he lives in person shall be taken into 
consideration, because this is the person addressed for the payment of 
Zakah. (Qurtubi) 

Rulings: 

1. For payment of Zakah due against a certain property, it is also 
permissible to take out the fortieth part of that particular property 
and give it to those deserving - such as, cloth, crockery, furniture and 
things like that stocked for commercial sales. Similarly, one can also 
determine the amount of Zakah by calculating the total value of the 
property and distribute it over those deserving. Doing that stands 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 60 


420 


proved on the authority of Sahih Ahadlth. (Qurtubl) And some leading 
jurists recommend that, in our time, giving the equivalent in cash is 
much better, because the needs of poor people vary in nature and 
number. Cash can be used for whatever is necessary. 

2. If one’s near relatives are poor and deserve Zakah, giving Zakah 
and Sadaqat to them is much better. It brings two rewards, one for the 
Sadaqah itself and the other for taking care of a near relative (silah 
al-rahim). In this case, it is simply not necessary that the recipients be 
told that they were being given Sadaqah or Zakah. It may as well be 
given as some gift or favor so that the nice person who takes it does 
not feel humiliated. 

3. There is a religious problem that bothers people frequently. For 
example, there is a person who, by his word or deed gives the impres¬ 
sion of being needy, and asks for help from Sadaqat etc. Now, is it nec¬ 
essary for people who give Sadaqah to first investigate his real back¬ 
ground and give him nothing of it when approached? According to 
relevant reports from Hadith and the statements of Muslim jurists, 
this is not necessary. Instead, if there is an overwhelming likelihood, 
as gathered from the obvious state he is in, suggesting that the person 
in question is really poor and needy, then, Zakah can be given to him. 
It appears in Hadith that some people came to the Holy Prophet All 

iJs. in a very broken-down condition. He asked people to collect Sad¬ 
aqat for them. The reasonably good collection thus made was given to 
them. He did not consider it necessary to investigate into their inward 
background. (Qurtubl) 

4. But, in Ahkam al-Qur’an, Al-Qurtubi says that one in debt is also 
one of the recipients of Zakah. If a person says that he owes so much in 
debt and that he should be given Zakah money to pay it back, then, he 
should be asked to prove that debt. (Qurtubl) If so, it is fairly evident 
that such investigation is not difficult to make in the cases of fi 
sabllillah (in the way of Allah) and ibn al-sabil (wayfarer) as well. In¬ 
vestigations should be made as necessary when spending on these 
heads. 

5. Giving Zakah money to one’s relatives is more re ward-worthy, 
but husband and wife cannot give to each other, nor can parents and 
children do so. The reason is that giving to them amounts to keeping it 
in one’s own pocket. Since their expenditures are generally combined, 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 61 - 66 


421 


a husband giving Zakah money to his wife or the wife to her husband 
does not mean much. In reality, the whole remains in their use. The 
same holds good for parents and children and the same rule operates 
in the case of the children of children, the grandfather and the great¬ 
grandfather - in that giving Zakah to them is not permissible. 

6. If a person gave Zakah to another person taking him to be, in his 
estimation, deserving and legally qualified to receive Zakah, but found 
out later that he was either his own slave or a kafir, then, Zakah will 
remain unpaid. It should be given again because the ownership of a 
slave is nothing but the ownership of the master. Here, he is still 
owned by him, therefore, Zakah remains unpaid. As for the kafir 
(disbeliever), he is no recipient of Zakah. 

7. In addition to that, if it is proved later that the person who was 
given Zakah was rich, or a Hashimite Sayyid, that is, a lineal descen¬ 
dant of the Holy Prophet jjLy -uU Jjl Jl*, or a father, or son, or wife, or 
husband, then, it is not necessary to repay the Zakah. The reason is 
that the amount of Zakah has gone out of his ownership and has al¬ 
ready reached its place of reward with Allah. As for the error in deter¬ 
mining the right recipient due to some misunderstanding, it should be 
taken as forgiven. (al-Durr al-Mukhtar) The explanation of the verse of 
Sadaqat and the details of necessary issues related to it end here. 


Verses 61 - 66 


jpr* J - 9 f 

2^4, D 

\^^t ^JJI J 

tin i tf&si 

jgkii isi i aii 3d JJ lu 

0^ j_ P j; 1 

cJs SJ3assis |>i sd)i SwjOitii jl 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 61 - 66 


422 



r Tr -» W»£?« - Ttr *'•*> f i ^ > 9 c m~i 

W ^JjU? iwJJui—> |tJs» w O 4 j£j\J2 ^j-C- ijj, i^sjUw^ 

4^ 54°LP^ 


And among them there are those who hurt the Prophet 
and say, “He is just an ear” (hearing and believing 
everything). Say, “He is a good ear for you who believes 
in Allah and trusts the believers and is a mercy for 
those of you who have (truly) believed.” And those who 
hurt the Messenger of Allah, for them there is a painful 
punishment. [61] 

They swear by Allah to you, (O believers) so that they 
may please you, whereas Allah - as well as His Messen¬ 
ger - has greater right that they should please Him, if 
they are (true) believers. [62] 

Have they not come to know that whoever opposes Al¬ 
lah and His Messenger, definite for him is the fire of Ja- 
hannam wherein he will remain forever. That is the ex¬ 
treme disgrace. [63] 

The hypocrites are afraid that a Surah (a chapter of the 
Holy Qur’an) may be sent about them which tells them 
what is there in their hearts. Say, “Go on mocking. Al¬ 
lah is surely to bring out what you are afraid of.” [64] 

And if you ask them, they will say, “We were just chat¬ 
ting and having fun.” Say, “Is it Allah and His verses 
and His Messenger that you were making fun of?” [65] 

Make no excuses. You became disbelievers after you 
professed Faith. If We forgive some of you, We shall 
punish some others, because they were guilty. [66] 

Commentary 

The present verses, like the previous ones, chastise hypocrites for 
their absurd objections, hostility to the Holy Prophet pU, ^ JJIJL* and 
their feigned professions of Faith on false oaths. 

The first verse (61) mentions the painful comment made by the 
hypocrites against the Holy Prophet (JLj JJl JL». They thought, since 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 67 - 70 


423 


he hears and believes everything, they had nothing to worry about. In 
the event, their conspiracy was exposed, they would simply tell him on 
oath that they had nothing to do with it. Allah Almighty corrected 
them by saying that His Messenger preferred silence against baseless 
hostilities because of his high morals. He did not believe in what they 
said. He himself knew reality as it was. He simply avoided refuting 
them on their faces because of his inherent gentleness of nature. 

Announced in verse 64: yjjiio; jj,(Allah is surely to bring out 

what you are afraid of) is the news that Allah will expose their con¬ 
spiracy and mischief. One such event came to pass while returning 
from the battle of Tabuk when some hypocrites had conspired to kill 
the Messenger of Allah. Allah Almighty informed him about the plan 
through angel Jibra’il helping him to bypass the spot where the hypo¬ 
crites were sitting in ambush. (Mazhari with reference to al-Baghawi) 

And Sayyidna ‘Ibn ‘Abbas says that Allah Ta'ala had in¬ 

formed the Holy Prophet jJLy *Jl& *1)1 jl * about the names of seventy 
hypocrites complete with their parentage and addresses. But, being 
the universal mercy, he did not disclose these before his people. 
(Mazhari) 


Verses 67 - 70 


0Jj-° u-* i J L a . U lj jjLL- W 

<i'A\\ I ^ f » V. ^ 5 v, m\. I . r ' ’ 

j» l ‘ ‘ 9 of" Oj4*-L3 


i .»V. 


v?A ,r 


s I > 


Ij III aJJI Jlcj jZlLdl 51 

isf ijfi? ^ jteji 

£ 3^% CjSi ^ ^JUxT cJL£ h >£ 


fA* Al £pj l J &A fjZ 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 67 - 70 


424 



The hypocrites, male and female, are all alike. They bid 
vice and forbid virtue and withhold their hands. They 
forgot Allah, so He forgot them. Surely, the hypocrites 
are the sinners. [67] 


Allah has promised the fire of Jahannam to the hypo¬ 
crites, men and women, and to the disbelievers who 
shall live there forever. It is adequate for them. And Al¬ 
lah has put His curse on them, and for them there is a 
lasting punishment. [68] 

(You are) like those before you. They were stronger 
than you in power, and richer in wealth and children. 

So, they enjoyed their share, then you enjoyed your 
share like those before you enjoyed their share. So, you 
indulged as they indulged. They are the ones whose 
deeds have gone waste in this world and in the Here¬ 
after, and they are the losers. [69] 

Has there not reached them the news of those before 
them, the people of Nuh (Noah) and ‘Ad and Thamud 
and the people of Ibrahim and the people of Madyan, 
and (the news) of the towns overturned? Their 
messengers came to them with clear signs; so, Allah 
was not to wrong them, but they have been doing 
wrong to their own selves. [70] 

Commentary 

The first verse begins with a profile of the hypocrites, One of the 
expressions used there: (and they withhold their hands) has 

been explained in Tafsir al-Qurtubi as abandonment of Jihad and non- 
compliance of obligatory rights and duties. Then, the sentence that fol¬ 
lows: \jZS literally means They forgot Allah, so He forgot them.’ 

But, Allah Ta‘ala is free of forgetfulness. So, the sense at this place is: 
Those people had abandoned the commandments of Allah, as if they 
had forgotten it, therefore, Allah too abandoned their prospects of bet¬ 
ter life in the Hereafter, to the extent that there remained just no 
trace of any good, or reward, in their name.' 

Let us now consider the statement: fills ‘(You are) like those 

before you’ in verse 69. According to one exegetical explanation, this is 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 71 - 73 


425 


addressed to hypocrites while according to the other explanation, the 
address is to Muslims. The addition of ‘you are’ in parenthesis points 
out in this direction. Thus, it means that ‘you too are like people before 
you. They went for worldly enjoyments and forgot all about the life to 
come. The result was that they sank into all sorts of sins. So shall you 
be.’ 


Explaining this verse, Sayyidna Abu Hurairah vs Jji narrates a 
Hadith in which the Holy Prophet vJs ^ has been reported to 
have said that ‘you too will take to the ways taken by communities be¬ 
fore you. You will imitate them in toto as dittos and clones to the limit 
that should you see one of them entering into the hole of a lizard 
(iguana), you will follow him there too.’ After having narrated this far, 
Sayyidna Abu Hurairah vs JJI said that should anyone wish to as¬ 
certain the thematic authenticity of this Hadith, let him read this 
verse of the Qur’an: ‘(You are) like those before you - 69.’ 

On hearing this, Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas vs Jji said: vl\ U 
*»,LjL iH)l that is, ‘how similar is this night (in our time) to the last 
night (way back) - they are the people of Bani Isra’il and we have been 
likened to them.’ (Qurtub!) 

The aim of the Hadith is fairly evident. It warns that Muslims too 
will start following the ways of the Jews and Christians by latter 
times. This statement appears only after a punishment has been an¬ 
nounced for the hypocrites. It serves as an indicator that good Mus¬ 
lims would not do that. Only those among them, who are weak in 
’Iman may do so because they are still infected with the germs of hy¬ 
pocrisy. All good men and women of the Muslim community have been 
instructed in this verse that they should themselves abstain from such 
ways as well as help others do the same. 


Verses 71 - 73 

’Ts\>T\\'< a£y 


L jjji i tJj I pfJ* C+L ajI I J Ij 

cA S -j&J 

A 'PS < 54 *?^ PS* 




Surah A1-Taubah : 9 : 71 - 73 


426 


V* Jjc & L Ui 55^ &i' ^ 

j;%» iui yyf Jji SiAj 

jjUiJo'jj'A’i 5 jiliJi a»t> 

J"-!_ j p-4^ 


The believers, male and female, are friends to each oth¬ 
er. They bid virtue and forbid vice and establish §alah 
and pay Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. 

Them Allah will bless with mercy. Surely, Allah is Pow¬ 
erful, Wise. [71] 

Allah has promised to the believers, male and female, 
gardens beneath which rivers flow where they shall 
live forever and good homes in gardens of eternity. And 
Allah’s pleasure is the greatest. That is the supreme 
success. [72] 

O Prophet, carry out Jihad against the disbelievers and 
hypocrites and be strict with them. And their abode is 
Jahannam, and it is an evil terminus. [73] 

Commentary 

Previous verses mentioned hypocrites — their conspiracies, hostili¬ 
ties, and the punishment waiting for them. The characteristic style of 
the Qur’an required that true believers should also be mentioned at 
this place giving a view of their life style, rewards and ranks. The 
verses cited above do just that. 

It is interesting that the text, while making a comparison between 
hypocrites and true believers on this occasion, has this to say: <£S 
jJS (they are all alike - 67). However, what it has to say about true be¬ 
lievers is: jii/S’Gjjl p+L% (the believers are friends to each other - 71). 
This releases a hint about the nature of their mutual relationships. 
Hypocrites base it on functional cooperation between kinsfolk or on 
self-interest. Such bonds do not last long, nor do they bring the kind of 
spiritual benefits that are the hallmarks of a heart-to-heart friendship. 
Juxtaposed against hypocrites there are the true believers. They are 
sincere friends and wish well of each other. (QurtubI) 

Moreover, since this friendship and concern for each other is for Al- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 71 - 73 


427 


lah alone, it is always constant. It remains the same under all condi¬ 
tions, open or secret, present or absent. And it is lasting. This is the 
mark of a true believer. It is in the very nature of Iman (faith) and Al- 
‘Amal as-Salih (good deed) that they generate mutual love and friend¬ 
ship. The Holy Qur’an confirms it when it says: (19:96). It 

means that among those who have believed and taken to consistent 
good conduct in life, Allah Ta'ala creates friendship that is deeply root¬ 
ed into their hearts. What has happened to us in our time? May be we 
are short on the faith in our hearts and the concern for good in our 
conduct. That is why mutual relationships among Muslims do not 
seem to be what the Qur’an would like them to be. Unfortunately, 
these are subservient to worldly needs and interests - and are not for 
the sake of Allah alone, as they should be. 

^ 9 _ 

In the last verse (73): ^Ic. JXIJ (carry out Jihad against 

the disbelievers and hypocrites and be strict with them), the Holy 
Prophet *X Jjl jL? has been commanded to wage Jihad against dis¬ 
believers and hypocrites both and to be strict in their case. The need to 
fight against belligerent disbelievers is self-evident. But, the meaning 
of carrying out Jihad against the hypocrites is explained by the very 
conduct of the Holy Prophet (X, *Jlc *1)1 It proves that Jihad against 
them signifies vocal Jihad through which they should be induced to 
understand the veracity of Islam, start to feel for it and thus become 
sincere in their adherence to Islam. (Qurtubl and Mazhari) Please bear in 
mind that the real meaning of the word: JX ighilaz) used in: JXIj (and 
be strict with them) is that one should not show any leniency or grant 
any concessions in taking a course of action which the person ad¬ 
dressed deserves. This word is used as an antonym to iif, ( ra’fah ) which 
means mercy and kindheartedness. 


In his comments, Imam al-Qurtubi has said that the use of the 
word: ghilzah (strictness) at this place means that leniency should not 
be shown and concessions should not be granted when the injunctions 
of Shari'ah are enforced on them. This approach has nothing to do with 
being vocally strict - because, that is against the favored practice of 
the blessed prophets. They are never harsh in speech, nor do they 


curse and swear. In Hadith, the Holy Prophet ^Xj XL *L)I is reported 
to have said: IaILiIT cJjl$j,(If a bondwoman of any¬ 

one among you commits fornication, just enforce the Islamic legal pun- 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 74 - 78 


428 


ishment for it on her - but, do not denounce her verbally) (Qurtubi) 


Alluding to the persona of the Holy Prophet jjLy a-Lc. All ^ - the im¬ 
age he exuded in his presence before people - Allah Ta‘ala has Himself 
said: IjAi*5 uilfl Llil uL>cufjJj (and had you been rough and hard¬ 


hearted, they would have dispersed from around you - 3:159). Then, 
there is no evidence even from the actual dealings of the Holy Prophet 
All that he ever demonstrated any harsh attitude in conver¬ 
sation or address before disbelievers and hypocrites. 


A warning signal 

It is certainly a matter of regret that the attitude of harshness in 
address and conversation was something Islam never took to even 
against Kuffar, the rigid and hostile disbelievers. But, contemporary 
Muslims would not bat an eye and use it against other Muslims - not 
to say much about many of those who would congratulate themselves 
for having done this as some service to their religion. Innalillah ... 


Verses 74-78 


Sir \g£'. jLJi hjf ijJi3 iil/j-ijlifu Ac 3 

iLi ’J % \&Z Uj ts 
^ ^ u; s>yi; tfiii ^ CA lii 

4vs 4 3s— } e. 1 1 y 1 — ~' u—* 3 ^ Uw i.yj 

4vij. ^i? IjJpj'*. IjL? fA'I 1 Sis 

dii $f ijili: ii/u- ii/ 

v aji Sir ^ ^ 


They swear by Allah that they said nothing while, in¬ 
deed, they had said the word of infidelity and had dis¬ 
believed after having accepted Islam, and had intended 
what they could not achieve. And they showed resent- 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 74 - 78 


429 


ment against nothing but that Allah and His Messenger 
have made them rich with His grace. So, if they repent, 
it will be good for them, and if they turn away, Allah 
shall punish them with a painful punishment in this 
world and the Hereafter, and for them there is neither 
a friend on the Earth, nor a helper. [74] 

And among them there are those who made a pledge 
with Allah: “If He gives us (wealth) out of His grace, 
then, surely we shall give alms and shall be among the 
righteous." [75] 

But when He gave them (wealth) of His grace, they be¬ 
came stingy about it, and went back turning their faces 
away. [76] 

So Allah, in turn, put hypocrisy in their hearts till the 
day they shall meet Him, because they broke their 
promise with Allah and because they have been telling 
lies. [77] Did they not know that Allah knows what they 
conceal and what they whisper and that Allah is the 
well-aware of all the unseen. [78] 

Commentary 

In the first verse: JjL Spiiu (They swear by Allah -74), the text re¬ 
verts to the hypocrites who keep uttering words of infidelity in their 
gatherings but, should Muslims come to know about that, they would 
promptly declare on oath that they had nothing to do with it. Giving 
the background in which this verse was revealed, Al-Baghawi reports 
that the Holy Prophet Ju-j *Jlc *1)1 JL? gave an address on the occasion of 
the battle of Tabuk. He talked about the sorry state of affairs the hypo¬ 
crites were in and warned them of their sad end. Also present there 
was Julias, a hypocrite. When he returned to his people, he said ‘if 
whatever Muhammad says is true, then, we are worse than donkeys.’ 
By chance, a Sahabi whose name was ‘Amir ibn Qays heard the com¬ 
ment. He told him that ‘there is no doubt about what the Holy Prophet 
|jL»j *Jlc *1)1 has said for it is true and you are really worse than don¬ 
keys.’ 

When the Holy Prophet *JLt Jji returned to Madinah back 
from his trip to Tabuk, ‘Amir ibn Qays told him about this event. But, 
Julias flatly disowned what he had said. On top of that, he charged 
‘Amir ibn Qays of having accused him falsely. The Holy Prophet *1)1 

ordered both of them to stand close to the Mimbar of the Nabiyy 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 74 - 78 


430 


(the stepped platform used to deliver khutbah in the masjid originally 
occupied by the Holy Prophet jjLy *JLc All Jl a and traditionally regarded 
as a symbol of his message) and take an oath. Julias was quick to take 
a false oath to the effect that he never said that and that ‘Amir was ly¬ 
ing. When it was ‘Amir’s turn, he took his oath. Then, he raised his 
hands of prayer before Allah saying, ‘O Allah, let Your Messenger 
know about the reality of this matter through a revelation to him.’ The 
Holy Prophet Jl-j All said ’ Amin (amen) following his prayer and 
so did all Muslims present there. These people had yet to move from 
there when came Angel Jibra’il with the revelation which included this 
verse. 

When Julias heard this verse, he stood up immediately and started 
saying, ‘ya rasulallah, now I confess that I was the one in the wrong 
and that which was said by ‘Amir was the truth. But, this very verse 
has also given me the right of making Taubah (repentance). Hence, I 
seek forgiveness from Allah and repent for what I did earlier.' The 
Holy Prophet J-j *Jit All JL> accepted his Taubah after which he stayed 
firm in it and things turned towards the better in his life. (Mazharf) 

Some commentators have referred to similar events as the back¬ 
ground of the revelation of this verse - especially as this verse includes 
the sentence: IpdSp ti IpLij (and had intended what they could not 
achieve —74). This sentence seems to suggest that the verse is connect¬ 
ed with some event when the hypocrites had hatched some conspiracy 
against the Holy Prophet pL.j *_Jut *1)1 and his Muslim followers in 

which they could not succeed. For example, there is a fairly well 
known incident that came to pass during the return from this very 
battle of Tabuk. Twelve men from among the hypocrites sat in ambush 
behind a mountain pass with the intention of taking the Holy Prophet 

*Ju All by surprise and kill him. Angel Jibra’il informed him of 
their intention. He took a different route and their conspiracy went to 
dust. 

For that matter, several other events of this nature are also on 
record. But, there is no element of contradiction or improbability in 
the likelihood that all those events are being referred to through this 
verse. 

The second verse: *1)1 1*1 p-fip (And among them there are those 
who made a pledge with Allah - 75) is also connected with a particular 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 74 - 78 


431 


event which has been reported by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn 
Marduwayh, Al-Tabarani and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of a 
narration from Sayyidna Abu Umamah Bahili *u-t -Jjl According to 
this report, a person called Thalabah ibn Hatib al-AnsIri presented 
himself before the Holy Prophet and requested him to 

pray that he becomes rich. He said, ‘Is it that you do not like my way? 
By the Being that holds my life in his His hands, if I had wished, 
mountains of Madinah would have turned into solid gold following 
behind me on my walkways. But, I do not like being that wealthy.’ The 
man went away. But, he returned later and repeated his request for 
the same prayer with the pledge that, should he get the wealth prayed 
for, he would give every deserving person his share from it. The Holy 
Prophet jJlwj Jjl made the prayer. The effect of the prayer showed 
up in an unprecedented increase in the number of goats he owned. 
When the number increased further, the space in Madinah became too 
small for him. So, he moved out into the outskirts from where he used 
to come to Madinah where he offered the Salah of Zuhr and ‘Asr with 
the Holy Prophet *-i& *1)1 Ju>. As for the rest of the prayers, he used 
to perform these in the wilderness where his herd of goats, his prized 
possession, was located. 

Then, this very flock of goats became so large that even that area 
on the outskirts became insufficient. He moved farther away from Ma¬ 
dinah coming there only on Fridays for the Jumu'ah Salah. As for the 
five daily prayers, he did them where he was stationed. Then came 
further increases in his wealth and he had to leave that spot too, only 
to go far away from Madinah where he sat deprived of his Jumu'ah 
and Jama'ah both. 

After the passage of some time, the Holy Prophet ^ *JU Jjl JU 
asked people about him. They told him that his ‘wealth’ had increased 
to such proportions that he had to go far away from Madinah and that 
is why he is not seen in the city. On hearing this, the Holy Prophet JL* 
pJLj *1)1 said: £±L r (Alas for Tha‘labah) three times. 

By chance, it was the time when came the revelation of the verse of 
Sadaqat (60) where the Holy Prophet jO-, *Jj. *1)1 has been commanded 
to collect Sadaqat from Muslims - ii). He had the whole 

law of Sadaqat committed to writing, appointed two persons as the col¬ 
lectors of Sadaqah and sent them to collect the Sadaqat due on live- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 74 - 78 


432 


stock owned by Muslims. They were ordered to go to Tha'labah ibn Ha- 
tib as well, and to another person from the tribe of Bani Sulaym also. 

When the two collectors reached Tha‘labah and presented the or¬ 
der of the Holy Prophet jjLy *J-c *1)1 he said that this thing had be¬ 
come a sort of Jizyah which is taken from non-Muslims. Then he 
hedged and asked them to leave on that occasion, however, they could 
call on him on their way back. The two of them left. 

Something different happened in the case of the other person from 
the tribe of Bani Sulaym. When he heard about the order of the Holy 
Prophet *JU *i)l LS La, he himself called on the two emissaries of his 
master carrying with him the best from out of his livestock of camels 
and goats, precisely according to his Zakatable nisab ofSadaqah. They 
told him that they have orders not to pick out the best among animals, 
in fact, they were supposed to take the average ones, therefore, they 
could not take these. The man from Bani Sulaym insisted that it was 
his pleasure to present those very animals and requested that they be 
accepted as they were. 

After that, when these two emissaries had completed their circuit 
of Sadaqah collection, they returned to Thalabah. He told them that 
he wanted to see that Law of Sadaqah they were talking about. He 
looked at it and said no more than what he had said earlier - ‘this 
thing has become a sort of Jizyah that should not be taken from Mus¬ 
lims.’ ‘All right,’ he said, ‘you can go for now. I have to think about it 
first. I will decide later.’ 

When these two gentlemen reached Madinah, they went to see the 
Holy Prophet *J^ *1)1 At that time he, before hearing their report 
on the mission, repeated the words he had said earlier: *J& ££i;*liju fdj l? 
j&S L' (Alas for Tha‘labah). He said it three times. After that, he was 
pleased to hear about the Sulaymi deal and prayed for him. Thereup¬ 
on, came the verse: dll j+ 1(And among them there are those who 
made a pledge with Allah - 75). It means: ‘if Allah gave them wealth, 
they would give out alms and charities and fulfill the rights of all de¬ 
serving people, the relatives and the poor, as done by the righteous 
people of the community. But, when Allah blessed them with wealth, 
out of His grace, they became misers overnight and turned away from 
their pledge of obedience to Allah and His Messenger.’ 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 74 - 78 


433 


Verse 77: lili (So Allah, in turn, put hypocrisy in their 

hearts) points out to its cause which lies in their lying and pledge 
breaking. As a consequence, Allah made the hypocrisy of their hearts 
become deep and firm. Now, they would just not have the ability to 
make Taubah itself. 

A serious note of warning 

From here we learn that there are occasions when the curse of evil 
deeds assumes alarming proportions, so much so that one is deprived 
of the very ability ( taufiq) of making Taubah. May Allah protect us 
from this misfortune! 

Let us now go back to the detailed narrative of Sayyidna Abu Uma- 
mah as. Jjl mentioned a little earlier. Ibn Jarir writes at the end of 
it: When the Holy Prophet pL, Jji said ‘Alas for Tha'labah’ three 
times, some of his relatives were present in the gathering. When they 
heard it, one of them immediately traveled to see Tha'labah. When he 
reached there, he reproached him for his behavior while informing him 
that it has caused the revelation of a particular verse of the Qur’an. 
This made Tha'labah nervous. He reached Madinah and requested the 
Holy Prophet ^ *Ill that his Sadaqah may be accepted. He said 
that Allah Ta'ala had told him not to accept his Sadaqah. Hearing this, 
Tha'labah went crazy with disappointment and literally started throw¬ 
ing dust on his head. 

The Holy Prophet pJLj .Uu. Jjl said, ‘this is something you have 
chosen to do on your own. I ordered you and you did not obey. Now, 
your Sadaqah cannot be accepted.’ Tha'labah returned disappointed. 
Then, some days later, the Holy Prophet ,JL»j *JLe *1)1 departed from 
this mortal world and Sayyidna Abu Bakr j-lc *Lll became the Khali- 
fah. Tha'labah came to Sayyidna Abu Bakr ^ Jjl j and requested 
that he should accept his Sadaqah. Sayyidna Abu Bakr oj. *1)1 said, 
‘when the Holy Prophet ^ -JU *1)1 JL» did not accept it, how can I do it?’ 

Then, after the demise of Sayyidna Abu Bakr ^ Jill Tha'labah 
came to Sayyidna ‘Umar Jjl He made the same request and got 
the same answer from him, as was given by Sayyidna Abu Bakr *L)l 
^. Again, he submitted this request to Sayyidna Uthman m Jjl dur¬ 
ing his period of Khilafah. He too refused it. It was during the tenure 
of the Khilafah of Sayyidna Uthman *Lll that Tha'labah died. We 

seek the protection of Allah from all evil deeds. (Mazharl) 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 79 - 80 


434 


A question and its answer 

When Tha'labah had submitted in repentance, the question is why 
was his Taubah not accepted? The reason is evident. The Holy Prophet 
i*L»j *Jit JJI Jl* was informed through revelation that he was not making 
his Taubah with absolute sincerity. He had hypocrisy concealed in his 
heart. He was simply trying to deceive Muslims for the time being only 
to put matters right between them. Therefore, it was not acceptable. 
And when the Holy Prophet jJL, Jjl himself declared him to be a 
hypocrite, the Khulafa’ who succeeded him were left with no right to 
accept his Sadaqah - because, being a Muslim is a condition for Zakah. 
Now, after the Holy Prophet Ju«j <ls. Jdl ^, no one knows the hypocrisy 
hidden in the heart of a person, therefore, the rule to follow in future 
is: Anyone who makes Taubah and confesses to his Islam and iman 
should be treated as Muslims are treated - no matter what lies in his 
heart. (Bayan al-Qur’an) 


Verses 79 - 80 


jyj IJ u-5 1 

ol J, | Z& Jjr* 

4 a • I I "lU IIj aJJ 


Those who find fault with believers who voluntarily 
give alms and have nothing but their hard earnings - 
still they mock at them - mocked they are by Allah and 
for them there is a painful punishment. [79] 

Ask pardon for them or do not ask pardon for them - 
even if you ask pardon for them seventy times, Allah 
shall never pardon them. That is because they disbe¬ 
lieved in Allah and His Messenger. And Allah does not 
lead the sinning people to the right path. [80] 

Commentary 

Mentioned in the first verse (79) are taunts thrown at Muslims who 
gave away in charity on a voluntary basis (.Nafli Sadaqat ). It appears 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 81 - 83 


435 


in the Sahih of Muslim that Sayyidna Abu Mas‘ud *1)1 ^ } said: ‘we 
had orders from Allah Ta‘ala that we must give Sadaqah and, believe 
it, we used to do manual labor for that (that is, we had no money or 
thing with us. We used to take out that Sadaqah too from whatever we 
earned through this very manual labor). Thus, Abu ‘Aqil offered Sada¬ 
qah to the measure of 0.5 Sa‘ (approximately 1.75 kilos). Then, someone 
came and gave a little more than that. The hypocrites mocked at them 
for having brought something so insignificant in the name of Sadaqah. 
Allah never needs things like that. And whoever gave a little more in 
Sadaqah, they accused him that he had done it to show off before peo¬ 
ple. Thereupon, this verse was revealed. 

\ 

Please note that, in the sentence: ^-*1)1^ (mocked they are by Al¬ 
lah - 79), the word ’mocked’ stands for 'punished for their mockery'. 

In the second verse (80), there is a statement about the hypocrites. 
It has been addressed to the Holy Prophet (Jl-j *Jlc *1)1 He has been 
told whether or not he seeks forgiveness for them makes no difference 
- and no matter how many times he seeks forgiveness for them, they 
shall not be forgiven. A detailed explanation of this appears under the 
comments on verse 84: $ (and never offer a prayer on any 

one of them who dies) appearing a little later. 


Verses 81 - 83 



Those who were left behind were happy with their sit¬ 
ting back to the displeasure of the Messenger of Allah, 
and they disliked to carry out jihad in the way of Allah 
with their wealth and lives, and they said, “Do not 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 81 - 83 


436 


march in this hot weather.” Say, “The fire of Jahannam 
is more intense in heat,” only if they could understand. 

[81] 

So, let them laugh a little, and weep a lot, being a re¬ 
ward of what they used to earn. [82] 

Then, if Allah brings you back to a group of them and 
they seek your permission to march, say to them, “You 
shall never march with me ever after, and shall never 
fight an enemy in my company. You were happy with 
sitting back the first time; now, sit with those remain¬ 
ing behind.” [83] 

Commentary 

Behavior patterns of hypocrites who did not take part in the battle 
of Tabuk, despite the general call of Jihad, continue to be the main 
theme since several previous verses. 

The current verses give another example of their behavior. Then, it 
was said that they will be punished in the Hereafter, their names will 
be eliminated from the list of the mujahidin of Islam forever in this 
mortal world and that they will never be allowed to take part in any 
future Jihad. 

The word: ojiU/ (those who were left behind - 81) is the plural of 
d&kZ ( mukhallaf) which means ‘abandoned’ or left out. The subtle hint 
thus released is that these people are pleased with the idea that they 
have stayed away from endangering their lives by not participating in 
the Jihad. But, the truth of the matter is that Allah Ta'ala did not con¬ 
sider them to be worthy of this supreme honor. Therefore, it is not 
they who have abandoned the Jihad, in fact, it is Jihad that has aban¬ 
doned them. The reason is that Allah and His Messenger have, at 
their discretion, considered it fit that they should be left out. 

_ l , 

Following immediately, there is the word: Jtti. ( khilaf) in: *DI 
translated as ‘to the displeasure of the Messenger of Allah.’ This word 
could be taken in the sense of ‘behind’ or ‘after’ as well. In fact, this is 
the meaning Abu ‘Ubayd has gone by. If so, it would me°n that these 
people were rejoicing in their staying (at home) after (the depai are of) 
the Messenger of Allah - an occasion not really worth the mirth. As for 
the word: LfJui r (bimaq‘adihim: their sitting back) in the same verse, it 
appears here in the sense of ( qu‘ud : sitting) as a verbal noun. 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 81 - 83 


437 


It is also possible to take the word khilaf in the sense of mukhaLafat 
(contravention, opposition). In that case, it would mean that they sat 
home in contravention of the command of the Holy Prophet Then, 
they did not leave it at that. They prompted others too by saying that 
they should not march in that hot weather: {~i\ ^ ij^£r*5). 

We already know that the command to fight the battle of Tabuk 
was given at a time when the heat was intense. The rejoinder to their 
comment came from Allah Ta'ala: Ji (Say: [O Prophet] the 

fire of Jahannam is more intense in heat) that is, these people are 
really unfortunate. They see the heat of a certain given time and try to 
beat it one way or the other. But, they do not realize that their disobe¬ 
dience to the command of Allah and His Messenger would bring them 
face to face with the fire of Jahannam. Why would they not worry 
about it? Is it that the heat of our seasons is more intense than the 
heat of Hell? 

After that it was said: &1 j (So, let them laugh a little, and 

weep a lot, being a reward of what they used to earn - 82). Though, the 
word l falyadhak\i (So, laugh) has been used in the imperative form, 
but commentators interpret it in the sense of the predicate of a nomi¬ 
nal clause. The wisdom behind the use of the imperative form given by 
them is that this is categorical and certain. In other words, this is go¬ 
ing to happen as a matter of certainty. Such people could laugh for the 
days they have in the mortal world - but, in ’Akhirah, they must weep 
and weep forever. 


Commentator Ibn Abi Hatim reports the explanation of this verse 
from Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas Jjl as follows: 


ill dSJI C&L\ l£i \gjZJl JJJJ CjJI 

\Z\ pZ&i ? t &ji i ijLindl 


The dunya (present world) is short-lived. So, let them laugh 
therein as they wish but when ‘dunysL will come to an end and 
they will start coming to Allah, then, they will start weeping, 
a weeping which will never come to an end. (Mazhari) 


The statement: \££j’J{lan takhruju ... you shall never march) in 
the second verse (83) has been explained by Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali 
Thanavi in the summary of his Tafsir Bayan al-Qur’an. According to 
him, ‘even if these people intend to participate in a future Jihad, they 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 84 


438 


would get out of it when they want to, under one or the other pretext; 
and since they do not have faith in their heart, their intention too will 
not be backed by sincerity. Therefore, the Holy Prophet JJI 

was commanded that, even if they want to take part in a Jihad, he 
should tell them the truth that he does not trust their word and deed. 
So, they would neither go for Jihad nor fight an enemy of Islam in his 
company/ 

Most of the commentators have said that this injunction has been 
enforced as their punishment in the present world, that is, even if they 
themselves were to make a request that they be allowed to take part 
in Jihad, even then, they should not be allowed to do that. 

Verse 84 



And never offer a prayer on any one of them who dies, 
and do not stand by his grave. They disbelieved in 
Allah and His Messenger and died while they were 
sinners. [84] 


Commentary 

It stands established from Sahih Ahadith, and confirmed by a con¬ 
sensus of the Muslim Ummah on it that this verse was revealed at the 
time of the death of the hypocrite, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubaiyy, and about the 
Salah of Janazah for him. Then, it also stands established from the re¬ 
port in Sahih of Muslim and the Sahih of Al-Bukhari that the Holy 
Prophet (J—j -uJlc *1ji Jl* offered Salah of Janazah for him. After he had 
done it, this verse was revealed. And thereafter, he never offered the 
Salah of Janazah for any munafiq (hypocrite). 

The background in which this verse was revealed appears in the 
Sahih of Muslim. According to this report from Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn 
‘Umar *ill when ‘Abdullah ibn Ubaiyy ibn Salul died, his son 
‘Abdullah Jji came to the Holy Prophet jJl-j *Jl£ Jil He was a 
sincere Muslim, and a Sahabi. When he requested for his shirt so that 
he could use it as a shroud for the dead body of his father, the Holy 
Prophet *lll let him have it. Then, he requested him to also 

lead the Salah of Janazah for his father. He accepted and rose to do 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 84 


439 


that. At that point, Sayyidna ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab *1)1 ^ held the 
fall of his shirt cloth and said: ‘you are going to lead the Janazah Salah 
for this munafiq although Allah Ta‘ala has prohibited you from doing 
that.’ The Holy Prophet pi-j *Ju. *1)1 said: ‘Allah Ta‘ala has given me a 
choice. I may pray for their forgiveness, or I may not - and as for for¬ 
giveness not to be granted even if prayed for it seventy times as in the 
verse, I can say that I can do that more than seventy times.’ The verse 
referred to here is verse 80 of Surah Al-Taubah which you have gone 
through a little earlier. For your convenience, its words are: Vjfj# 

*1)ijJLfyl oI (Ask pardon for them or do not ask 

pardon for them; even if you ask pardon for them seventy times, Allah 
shall never pardon them). Then, the Holy Prophet *JLe. All offered 
the Salah of Janazah for him. Soon after the Salah, this verse: jii JLsjV 
jit (And never offer a prayer on any one of them...) was revealed 
(so, after that, he never led the Salah of Janazah for any munafiq). 


Removal of ambiguities concerning this event 

A question arises here about ‘Abdullah ibn Ubaiyy, a munafiq 
whose hypocrisy was laid bare on many different occasions and who 
was regarded as ring leader of all hypocrites. How was it that he re¬ 
ceived such unusual treatment from the Holy Prophet ,JLj *-±& *1)1 jl» 
when he gave his blessed shirt to be used as his funeral shroud? 

In answer, two reasons can be given for it. Firstly, it was done on 
the request of his son who was a sincere Sahabi and the motive was 
simply to console him on his loss. There could be a second reason as 
well. This has been reported in Al-Bukhari on the authority of Sayyid¬ 
na Jabir *j* *1)1 When some Quraysh chiefs were arrested on the oc¬ 
casion of the battle of Badr, one of them happened to be ‘Abbas, the un¬ 
cle of the Holy Prophet JU, *Jl& *1)1 JL». When he saw that his uncle does 
not have a shirt on his body, he asked his Companions to put a shirt 
on him. Sayyidna ‘Abbas *ic Jjl ^ was tall. No shirt other than that of 
‘Abdullah ibn Ubaiyy would fit him. So, the Holy Prophet |JLj *Jx JLtl JL» 
took the shirt from ‘Abdullah ibn Ubaiyy and had his uncle ‘Abbas 
wear it. It was only to repay this favor that the Holy Prophet *J* *1)1 JL» 
Jl,j had given his shirt for him. (Qurtubl) 

The second question relates to what Sayyidna ‘Umar *j_c *1)1 had 
said to the Holy Prophet. It will be recalled that he had said, ‘Allah 
Ta‘ala has prohibited you from leading the Salah of Janazah for a hypo- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 84 


440 


crite.’ We have to look for the basis on which he said that, because no 
verse had ever prohibited the Holy Prophet jju, *Jlc Jji expressly 
from offering the Salah of Janazah for a hypocrite. From here it be¬ 
comes fairly clear that Sayyidna ‘Umar JJI must have deduced 
that sense of prohibition from this very verse of Surah Al-Taubah re¬ 
ferred earlier, that is, ((Ask pardon for them... 80). Now the ques¬ 
tion is, if this verse of prohibition refers to the Salah of Janazah, why 
would the Holy Prophet pJLj *JU Jji not let this be regarded as prohib¬ 
ited, instead of which, he said that the choice in the verse had been 
given to him? 

The answer is that, in reality, the formal arrangement of words in 
the verse does carry the sense of giving a choice - and it is also obvious 
that the mention of seventy times at this place is not for prescribing a 
limit. It is, rather, to express the sense of many times. Thus, the out¬ 
come of the verse, in terms of its obvious sense, turns out to be that ‘a 
hypocrite will not be pardoned, no matter how many times you were to 
seek forgiveness for him.’ But, he has not been expressly prohibited 
from praying for their forgiveness as such. Another verse of the Holy 
Qur’an from Surah Ya Sin is a parallel example. There it has been said: 

i f+jfc (And it is all the same for them whether or 
not you warn them - they are not going to believe - 36:10). This verse 
has not categorically stopped him from warning people of evils and in¬ 
viting them to what is good. For that matter, some other verses of the 
Qur’an also prove that the ongoing mission of calling people towards 
the faith never stopped. Of course, it included such people as well — for 
example, ddil, jjji £ ’*1' (O Messenger, convey all that has been sent 

* * y w j ^ * 

down to you from your Lord. - 5:67) and jU JSUJ jxJ cjI ill (you are only 
a warner, and for every people, there is a guide - 13:7). The outcome is 
that the verse of Surah Ya Sin (36:10) quoted above proved that choice 
was given to the Holy Prophet pi-j *Jlc *1)1 though in a limited frame 
of reference. Then, the later verses quoted immediately earlier provid¬ 
ed the standing proof of the continuance of the mission of warning peo¬ 
ple against evils. From the verse under study too, the Holy Prophet 
Jl-j *JLc *1)1 had gathered that they will not be pardoned, but the situa¬ 
tion was that he had not been restrained from seeking forgiveness for 
them through some other verse either, till then. 

Then, the Holy Prophet pJL, *1)1 also knew that neither his 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 84 


441 


shirt nor the Salah of Janazah he offered for the deceased hypocrite 
were to bring forgiveness for him. But, he did hope that his action 
would yield benefits for other aspects of Islamic public policy. People of 
his family and the disbelieving people in general were bound to ob¬ 
serve the way the Holy Prophet jJL-j aJu. -111 lJ L» deals with their leader. 
This was likely to bring them closer to Islam, even embracing it. As for 
some clear prohibition of offering the Salah of Janazah, it just did not 
exist until that time. Therefore, he led the Salah. 

Perhaps, the other answer lies in the sentence that has been re¬ 
ported in the Sahih of A1-Bukhari on the authority of Sayyidna 
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas a^aIii^. There, the Holy Prophet (jLji.J-e.-JjI 
has been quoted to have said: ‘Had I known that he will be pardoned 
by praying for his forgiveness more than seventy times, I would have 
done that too.’ (Qurtubl) 

The second evidence comes from another Hadith in which the 
following words from the Holy Prophet ( J_jiLLe.i-Lii t/ JL» have been 
reported: ‘my shirt cannot save him from the punishment of Allah. 
But, I did it in the hope that on the basis of this action thousands of 
his people will embrace Islam.’ So, according to what was said, after 
having witnessed this event, one thousand people from the tribe of 
Khazraj embraced Islam (as reported in the books of maghazi and in 
some books of Tafsir). 

Summary 

To sum up, the Holy Prophet (JLj aJ_& -Jjl cr L* knew from previous 
verses that no matter what they do, the munafiqs (the hypocrites) will 
not be pardoned. But, there were some factors that explain the ratio¬ 
nale of his action. The words of the verse seemed to have given him 
the choice. No other verse had yet prohibited him from doing so. Then, 
there was the opportunity to pay back the favor of a disbeliever here in 
this world. Last, but not the least, was the hope of other disbelievers 
embracing Islam as a result of this action. Therefore, he preferred to 
lead the Salah of Janazah. As for the action of Sayyidna ‘Umar -JLll ^ 
-uc, he thought that once it stands proved through the verse in question 
that a hypocrite will not be pardoned, he found no reason for offering a 
Salah of Janazah for him and praying that he may be forgiven. Accord¬ 
ing to him, it might be redundant, and against the station of a proph¬ 
et. Therefore, he deemed it prohibited to offer the janazah. The posi- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 85 - 89 


442 


tion of the Holy Prophet *Jlc *1)1 Jl* was that he did not, though, con¬ 
sider this action as beneficial in its own right - but, he did have the 
likelihood of others embracing Islam in sight. Therefore, this action did 
not remain futile. To conclude, in this manner, no ambiguity remains 
either in the conduct of the Holy Prophet ^ *Ja *1)1 or in the words 
of Sayyidna ‘Umar **£ *1)1 (Bayln al-Qur’an) 

Now, came the verse: JU;*? (and never offer a prayer) revealed in 

* 

clear terms. It was realized that, no doubt, there was a religiously ex¬ 
pedient advantage visible to the Holy Prophet ^ in offering the Salah 
but it also carried a disturbing factor in it, almost the reverse of what 
was expected to be expedient. This element somehow did not attract 
the attention of the Holy Prophet The likelihood of this action 
creating dissatisfaction among sincere Muslims was strong. They may 
have thought that sincere Muslims and wily hypocrites have been 
equated officially. To offset this danger, this particular prohibition was 
revealed in the Qur’an - and after that, the Holy Prophet ^ never 
offered the Salah of Janazah for any munafiq. 


Rulings 

1. This verse tells us that offering Salah on the Janazah of a kafir 
or the making of Du‘a seeking his or her forgiveness is not permissible. 


2. This verse also proves that to stand before the grave of a kafir as 
a mark of respect for him, or to go to visit it, is haram. Should this be 
to learn some lesson therefrom, or because of some compulsion, then, it 
is not contrary to this. For example, it appears in Hidayah that, should 
a kafir relative of a Muslim die without leaving a guardian or heir be¬ 
hind, the Muslim relative can put the deceased into hollowed ground 
as is, without having to make it conform to the standard practice of 
the Holy Prophet jJLj *Jlc *1)1 ju. (Bayan al-Qur’an) 


Verses 85 - 89 





Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 85 - 89 


443 



And their wealth and children should not attract you. 
Allah only wants to punish them with these in this 
world and that their souls depart while they are disbe¬ 
lievers. [85] 


And when a Surah is revealed (saying), “Believe in Al¬ 
lah and carry out jihad in the company of His Messen¬ 
ger” the capable ones from them seek your permission 
and say, “Let us remain with those sitting back.” [ 86 ] 

They are happy to be with women who sit back, and 
their hearts are sealed; so they do not understand. [87] 

But the Messenger and the believers in his company 
have carried out jihad with their wealth and lives, and 
for them there are the good things, and they are the 
successful. [ 88 ] Allah has prepared for them gardens be¬ 
neath which rivers flow where they will live forever. 
That is the supreme success. [89] 


Commentary 

Once again, the present verses carry the description of hypocrites 
who had avoided participating in the battle of Tabuk under one or the 
other pretext. Among such hypocrites, there were some rich people as 
well. Their affluent life could have made Muslims ask, ‘when these 
people are so unacceptable with Allah, why did they have to get all 
those blessings in this world?’ 

In response, it was said that a little thinking would unfold the real¬ 
ity behind what they possess in the form of wealth and children. These 
are no mercy and blessing for them. Instead, these are their trial and 
punishment in this world - not to say much about the additional pun¬ 
ishment due in the Hereafter. It is not difficult to understand the rea¬ 
son. They love wealth, guard it and keep worrying as to how they can 
go on increasing it. They are never at peace. They collect things of 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 90 


444 


comfort around them but genuine peace and comfort never knock at 
their doors, for they are things of the heart. And since this engross¬ 
ment in the pursuit of wealth makes them heedless towards the con¬ 
cerns of the Hereafter, they indulge in acts of disobedience to their 
Creator that in turn becomes the cause of their punishment. So, 
whether a cause or its effect, it remains a punishment. This is the rea¬ 
son why the Qur’an has used the words: Lk$<I*i,(to punish them with 
these) in the sense that Allah Ta'ala wants to punish them by and 
through these very possessions. 

The expression: J£k)l ljj,i (ulu ’at-taul : translated as ‘the capable 
ones’) (86) is not for particularization. Instead, it serves a purpose. It 
tells that there were others too, the ones not so capable. And the inca¬ 
pable ones had, at least, some obvious excuse to stay behind. 


Verse 90 


i\ . > pf pit IIjjlf 5pl il 


And the excuse-makers from the Bedouins came that 
they might be allowed (to stay behind), while those 
who were false to Allah and His Messengers (just) 
stayed behind. A painful punishment is about to fall 
upon those of them who disbelieve. [90] 


Commentary 

The details given in the verse tell us that there were two kinds of 
people among the Bedouins of the (Jesert. First, there were those who 
visited the Holy Prophet *Jlc *1)1 (J L a and requested that they might 
be excused from Jihad and allowed to stay behind. Then, there were 
the arrogant and rebellious among them who did not even bother to 
take the trouble of excusing themselves out of it. They just stayed be¬ 
hind. 


‘When the Holy Prophet |Jl*j *Jlc *1)1 ( _ r L» allowed Jadd ibn Qays that 
he may not go on Jihad,’ says Sayyidna Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah,*^c *1)1 
‘some hypocrites also came to him, offered their excuses and sought his 
permission to stay out of Jihad. As for the permission, he let them 
have it, but he did realize that they were making false excuses, there¬ 
fore, he turned away from them. Thereupon, this verse was revealed.' 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 91 - 93 


445 


It made it clear that their excuse was unacceptable. Therefore, they 
were served with the warning of a painful punishment. However, by 
saying: fiL \’&£ jljjf (those of them who disbelieve), a hint was given 
that the excuse given by some of them was not because of their disbe¬ 
lief or hypocrisy, rather, it was because of their natural laziness. So, 
they were not to be affected by the punishment to fall upon those dis¬ 
believers. 


Verses 91 - 93 

7 


SjjJI JZ JZ J^J 

^ -l Hr*' d f‘‘ 

JiZVSi"* j ’jZt iillj \J4~ 

'tiicfsljl isi>l V^JLi j^LAsjaiJjl IS lij,<3i)i 
LS ijLjS ^ <4^1 j 


pi dppiUJJ 54UI Jlc 34-in tsi.e*> 
jli dll ^I \/g3 5t Iji; 

aj-d' V |4» 

There is no blame on the weak, or on the sick, or on 
those who have nothing to spend, if they are sincere to 
Allah and His Messenger. There is no way against those 
good in deeds. And Allah is most Forgiving, Very Merci¬ 
ful. [91] 


Nor (is there any blame) on those who - when they 
came to you so that you might provide them with a car¬ 
rier and you said (to them), “I find no carrier to give to 
you” - went back, their eyes flowing with tears grieving 
that they had nothing to spend. [92] 

Blame lies, in fact, on those who ask you permission de¬ 
spite being rich. They are happy being with women 
who sit back. And Allah has sealed their hearts; so they 
do not know. [93] 


Commentary 

Previous verses mentioned people who were not really excusable 
from participation in Jihad but sat it out because of laziness. Then, 
there were hypocrites who had taken permission from the Holy Proph- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 94 - 96 


446 


et A* All under false pretexts because of their disbelief and hy¬ 
pocrisy. And then there were the arrogant ones who did not bother 
about excuses and permissions and just sat back. They were told there 
that they were not excusable and that there was a painful punishment 
waiting for those of them who practiced disbelief and hypocrisy. 

The present verses mention sincere Muslims who were deprived of 
participation in Jihad because they were genuinely incapable of doing 
so. Some of them were blind, or sick, or handicapped. Their excuse was 
all too evident. Then, there were some of those who were ready to take 
part in Jihad, in fact, were ‘dying’ to go into the Jihad, but they could 
not make the trip because they did not have an animal to ride on. The 
journey was long and the weather was very hot. They told the Holy 
Prophet jJ—j *At Al how eager they were to participate in the Jihad 
but how unfortunate that they had nothing to ride on. They requested 
him to see if they could have some mounts. 

There are many events of this nature recorded in books of Exegesis 
and History. So, different things happened. To some of them who came 
initially, the Holy Prophet jA-j A - 6 Al l _ r L*> had no choice but to say that 
they had no arrangements to provide mounts to warriors. But, these 
people returned from him weeping and when they kept weeping in de¬ 
spair, Allah Ta‘ala took care of them in His own way. Six camels ar¬ 
rived before the Holy Prophet jA-j *Jlc Al JL* right at that time. He let 
them have these. (Mazharl) Then, Sayyidna ‘Uthman Al ^ j arranged 

mounts for three of them, although he had already made similar ar¬ 
rangements for many more of them earlier. 

Ultimately, there were some of them still left out for the simple 
reason that they could not find a mount. Rendered totally helpless, 
they could do nothing about their aspirations for Jihad. These are the 
kinds of people mentioned in the cited verses whose excuse was accept¬ 
ed by Allah Ta'ala. However, at the end, the warning was repeated by 
saying that particularly cursed are those who, despite their ability, 
elected to stay away from Jihad like women. The sentence: JUfeJJl'Uj. 
flljlt ’<S' ; (Blame lies, in fact, on those who ask your permis¬ 
sion despite being rich - 93) means exactly this. 


Verses 94 - 96 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 94 - 96 


447 


sSl+lii/ ^ Jl Sjfp 

| t ^ J | j. 1 UJC j4^4^ jj.lwa-nJ 

4^ W r#, J ^ ij4^ a ^ 

ijijaifSJ Sjk* 5J^ ijJtf V'B* 

c jUi ^ Aj\ $a ^ 


<JJLJA\ 

w ^ 


They will make excuses to you when you return to 
them. Say, “Do not make excuses. We shall never be¬ 
lieve you. Allah has told us the facts about you. And Al¬ 
lah will see what you do, and His Messenger as well. 
Then you shall be returned to the Knower of the Seen 
and the Unseen, and He will tell you what you have 
been doing.” [94] 


They will swear by Allah before you, so that you may 
ignore their misdeed. So, you ignore them. They are 
filth, and their abode is Jahannam, as a recompense for 
what they used to do. [95] 

They swear before you so that you may be pleased with 
them. So, even if you are pleased with them, Allah will 
not be pleased with the sinning people. [96] 


Commentary 

Mentioned in the previous verses were hypocrites who came up 
with false excuses at the time Jihad forces were getting ready to 
march out and succeeded in being allowed to stay behind. The present 
verses mention those who visited the Holy Prophet jJL,^ *Jlg JJ! after 
his return from Jihad and offered false excuses for their absence from 
it. These verses had been revealed before his return to Madinah and 
had told him beforehand about the forthcoming event, that is, the 
hypocrites will come to him as soon as he reaches Madinah and will of¬ 
fer their excuses. And so it happened. 

Three instructions about them have been given to the Holy 
Prophet jJl-j jlJLc. JJI in the verses cited above. These are as follows: 

1. When they come to make excuses, they should be told that they 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 97 - 99 


448 


do not have to make false excuses for they were not going to be 
believed in their word. Allah Ta‘ala had already told the Holy Prophet 

about the condition of their thinking and doing including the details 
of their wicked plans and secret intentions. This was enough to prove 
that they were liars, therefore, offering excuses makes no sense. After 

9 * i' 

that, it was said: (And Allah will see what you do...). Here, 

respite has been given to them so that they could still make their Tau- 
bah (repentance), renounce Nifaq (hypocrisy) and become true Mus¬ 
lims - because, the wording of the text stipulates that Allah and His 
Messenger shall see what they do and how they do it. In other words, 
action shall be taken in consonance with their behavior pattern. If 
they repented sincerely and became true Muslims, their sins shall 
stand forgiven. Otherwise, these false excuses were not going to do 
them any good. 

2. The second instruction to the Holy Prophet jju. } *Jj. *1)1 appears 
in the second verse (95) where it has been said that these people will 
come to him after his return to Madinah, impress him with their 
feigned oaths and try to satisfy him. What they would wish to achieve 
from this initiative is: i ijiy&lso that you may ignore their misdeed), 
that is, ‘ignore their absence from Jihad and spare the reproach due on 
it.’ Thereupon, it was said that he might as well grant their wish. The 
text says: 'l \$Z> _^u:‘you ignore them.’ Thus, the instruction carries the 
sense: ‘neither reproach and admonish, nor deal with pleasantly’ - be¬ 
cause, reproach usually brings no good. When they have no faith in 
their heart - and they do not want to have it either - what would come 
out of reproach? So, why waste good time! 

3. The third instruction given to the Holy Prophet JL 3 *JU *1)1 ap¬ 
pears in the third verse (96): “They swear before you so that you may 
be pleased with them.” The order of Allah Ta‘ala is that their wish was 
not to be granted and he was not to be pleased with them. However, it 
was also said that, ‘even if you were to be pleased with them, it was 
not going to work for them in any manner, because Allah is not 
pleased with them. And how could Allah be pleased with them when 
they are still adamant about their denial and hypocrisy? 


Verses 97 - 99 


3# u sjl> ui \x WjJ&j fiiif (d? 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 97 - 99 


449 



The Bedouins are often more strict in disbelief and hy¬ 
pocrisy and are most likely to be ignorant of the limits 
of what Allah has sent down to His Messenger. And Al¬ 
lah is All-Knowing, Wise. [ 97 ] 

And among the Bedouins there are those who take 
what they spend as a penalty and they look forward to 
the cycles of time to turn against you. Upon those is the 
evil cycle. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [ 98 ] 

And among the Bedouins there are others who believe 
in Allah and in the Last Day and take what they spend 
as a source of nearness to Allah and of prayers from the 
Messenger. It is indeed a source of nearness for them. 

Allah will admit them to His mercy. Surely, Allah is 
Most Forgiving, Very Merciful. [ 99 ] 

Commentary 

Described in the previous verses were the hypocrites of Madinah. 
The present verses mention hypocrites who lived on the desert around 
the outskirts of Madinah. 

The word ybeill ( al-a‘rab) is not a plural form of ( al-‘arab ). It is 

£**,►-1 (ism al-jarn *: collective noun) and is used for the Bedouins of the 
desert. In its singular form, it becomes ( al-a‘rabiyy ) — similar to 

(al-ansariyy), the singular form of ( al-ansar•). 

According to their condition described in verse 97 , they outdid city 
dwellers in disbelief and hypocrisy. The reason given is that these peo¬ 
ple generally remained ignorant and hard-hearted as they lived far 
away from knowledge and the knowledgeable. Then the text says: ‘the 
Bedouins are more likely to be ignorant of the limits of what Allah has 
sent down.’ It means that the very surroundings in which they live are 
such as would keep them in the dark about the limits set by Allah 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 97 - 99 


450 


through the revelation - because the Qur’an does not come before 
them, nor do they have access to its meanings, explanations and in¬ 
junctions. 

In the second verse (98) too, yet another aspect of the condition of 
these very Bedouins has been described as: ‘those who take what they 
spend (in Zakah etc.) as a penalty.’ Why would they do so? The reason 
is that they hardly have any faith in their heart. When it comes to 
making Salah, they would, though, do that, but just to camouflage 
their disbelief. They would even fulfill the obligation of Zakah, but 
their hearts would keep worrying as to why they had to put good mon¬ 
ey down the drain. Therefore, they always look forward to the time 
when Muslims are hit by some calamity or defeat that may possibly 
deliver them from having to pay this penalty. The word: ^IjjJI ( al- 
dawa’ir : the cycles of time) is the plural of: ( da’irah ). According to 
the Arabic lexicon, da’irah is the changed state that shifts away from 
the good state into a bad one. Therefore, the Holy Qur’an says in re¬ 
sponse to them: (upon them is the evil cycle). In other 

words, the evil state of affairs they wish would strike at Muslims is go¬ 
ing to descend upon them all right - and, because their words and 
deeds are such, they will find themselves far more disgraced. 

After having described the state of affairs prevailing among hypo¬ 
crites of distant deserts, it was considered appropriate that the true 
and staunch Muslims from among the same stock of Bedouins should 
also be mentioned. This was done in verse 99 - very much in line with 
the typical style of the Qur’an - so that, it stands established that Bed¬ 
ouins too are not all alike. Among them, there are many sincere Mus¬ 
lims, and people of sense and discernment as well. Their style of life is 
different. When they give in obligatory alms (Zakah) or in voluntary 
charities (Sadaqat), they regard these as a source of nearness to Allah 
Ta‘ala and hope that the Holy Prophet Jl.j *Jlc *1)1 Jl* would be praying 
for them. 

That Sadaqat are a source of nearness to Allah Ta‘ala is obvious. 
However, the hope of prayers from the Holy Prophet Jl,j *_U *1)1 is on 
a different basis. It should be borne in mind that the Holy Qur’an - 
wherever it has asked the Holy Prophet a* *1)1 J. L» to collect Zakah 
on the wealth and property of Muslims - has also directed him that he 
should also pray for those who pay Zakah. The forthcoming verse (103): 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 100 


451 


j4?It *i££ i>; j> (Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah 

[obligatory alms] through which you may cleanse and purify them, and 
pray for them) is a good example? The instruction to the Holy Prophet 
*1)1 that he should pray for these people has been termed: 
pfeJU (and pray for them) using the word: -tjL* (salat) for it. Therefore, in 
the present verse as well, the sense of the prayers of the Holy Prophet 
pL,j aJL Jji has been expressed by the use of the word: (salat). 


Verse 100 

J-4 jjJjSl I I J 

cl> $ ^5 V D U£L 

jjlii oUi "ill jj3Vi 


As for the first and foremost of the Emigrants and the 
Supporters and those who followed them in goodness, 
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with 
Allah, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath 
which rivers flow where they shall live for ever. That is 
the supreme success. [100] 


Commentary 

The verse before this (99) carried a description of sincere and true 
Muslims among the Bedouins of the desert. The present verse men¬ 
tions all sincere and true Muslims along with their relative degrees of 
excellence. 


Let us begin with the opening statement: 

* s ' 




(the first and foremost of the Emigrants and the Supporters). Most 
commentators have taken the preposition j* (min) for tab‘id which de¬ 
notes a part of something and may be translated as 'out of) and thus 
have set up two categories of the noble Sahabah from among the Emi¬ 
grants (al-muhajirin) and the Supporters ( al-ansar) — (1) ‘the first and 
foremost,’ then, (2) the rest of them. 


This interpretation implies that it is only first category that is re¬ 
ferred to in the above verse, i.e. 'the first and foremost'. Then, for iden¬ 
tifying 'the first and foremost' the commentators have different views. 
Some consider ‘the first and foremost’ from among the noble Compan¬ 
ions to be those who have offered their Salah by turning to.both the Qi- 
blahs, that is, those who had embraced Islam before the change of Qi- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 :100 


452 


blah were ‘the first and foremost.’ This is the view of Sa‘id ibn al- 
musayyab and Qatadah. ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah has said that ‘the first and 
foremost’ are the Sahabah who participated in the battle of Badr. 
Sha‘bi said that the Sahabah who were a party to the Bai'atur-Ridwan 
(the pledge taken at the time of the expedition of Hudaibiyah) are ‘the 
first and foremost.’ And according to each view, after respective ‘first 
and foremost,’ the rest of the Sahabah - muhajir (emigrant) or ansar 
(supporter) - are in the second category. (Mazharl, QurtubI) 

All these views were based on the intrepretation that takes the 
preposition {min) in this verse for tab’id as aforesaid. Tafsir Mazhari 
has however, reported another interpretation. According to this 
interpretation, the preposition ^ {min) is not for tab’id here. It is 
rather for bayan which explains the preceding words and stands for 
’that is’. The translation of the verse, in this case, would be as follows: 
"As for the first and the foremost people, that is, all the Emigrants 
(the Muhajirin) and the supporters (the Ansar)..." The sentence thus 
will mean that all the muhajirin and the Ansar are the first and 
foremost as compared to the rest of the Muslim community. 

To sum up, in accordance with the first Tafsir, there are two cate¬ 
gories of Sahabah, being that of ‘the first and foremost’ and that of 
those who embraced Islam after the change of Qiblah or the battle of 
Badr or the Bai‘atur-Ridwan. The substance of the last Tafsir is that 
the noble Sahabah, all of them, are but ‘the first and the foremost’ - be¬ 
cause, their ’Iman (faith) is first and foremost as compared to that of 
the rest of the Muslim Ummah. 

The second sentence of the verse: &JJlj has been translat¬ 

ed as ‘and those who followed them in goodness.’ It means Muslims 
who followed the footsteps of ‘the first and foremost’ precisely and per¬ 
fectly in all fields of deeds and morals. According to the first Tafsir of 
the first sentence, the first category belongs to those Emigrants and 
Supporters among Sahabah who embraced Islam after the change of 
Qiblah or the battle of Badr or the Bai‘at of Hudaibiyah. After them, 
all Muslims fall in the second category, Muslims who followed the 
model set by the noble Sahabah in all matters of faith, deeds and mo¬ 
rals honestly and staunchly right through the Last Day of Qiyamah. 

And according to the other Tafsir, the expression: Ifijl jjJJ f those who 
followed them) includes great people who came after the noble Saha- 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 100 


453 


bah and who are called Tabi'i in the Islamic terminology. After these 
technically specified Tabi‘in or Successors of the Sahabah, included 
here are all Muslims who shall keep appearing right through the Last 
Day of Qiyamah and who shall follow the noble Sahabah precisely and 
perfectly in purity of faith and goodness of deeds ( al-’Iman and al- 
‘amal-as-salih). 

All the Sahabah are the people of Jannah and are blessed with 
the pleasure of Allah 

Someone asked Muhammad ibn Ka‘b al-Qurazi, ‘what do you say 
about the noble Companions of the Holy Prophet pL-j *Jic Jji J-J?’ He 
said, ‘the Sahabah, all of them, are in Jannah - irrespective of whether 
mistakes and sins may have been committed by some of them.’ The 
man again asked him, ‘on what basis did you say that?’ He said, ‘Read 
this verse of the Holy Qur’an: Sjifpf (...the first and foremost...). 

Here, what has been said about all revered Sahabah, without any con¬ 
dition, is clear: *JJI ^ (Allah is pleased with them and they 

are pleased with Allah). However, a condition has been placed in the 
case of the Tabi'in (the successor to the Sahabah), the condition of: &yi 
(following with goodness). This tells us that the revered Sahabah, 
all of them, without any condition or restriction or exemption, stand in 
honor as recipients of Divine pleasure. 


After reporting this statement, the author of Tafsir Mazhari has 
said, ‘in my view, the following verse carries a more solid proof of the 
fact that all revered Sahabah belong to Jannah : 

J--S5tl4l)l Ilf Iji2l SLJI It has been fully 

and clearly stated in this verse that all revered Sahabah, first or the 
last, have been promised al-husna, that is, Jannah or Paradise.’ 


And in Hadith, the Holy Prophet jJLj *JLc *1)1 has been reported to 
have said, ‘the fire of Jahannam (hell) cannot touch the Muslim who 
has seen me or has seen those who have seen me,’ (Tirmidhl from Sayyidna 
Jabir nc. ill I 


A note of warning 

People who criticize some revered Sahabah on the basis of what 
transpired during their mutual controversies with the aim of sowing 
seeds of suspicion and discord in the hearts of those who hold them in 
esteem are really treading a dangerous course. We seek the protection 
of Allah against it. 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 - 106 


454 


Verse 101 

ij& hMz v 1 ^’ 1 'A ’&> 

4\.\> pM ollc 


And among those Bedouins who are around you there 
are hypocrites, and among the people of Madinah as 
well. They are adamant in hypocrisy. You do not know 
them. We know them. We shall punish them twice, then 
they shall be driven to a great punishment. [101] 


Commentary 


Mentioned in several previous verses there are hypocrites whose 
hypocrisy stood exposed through their words and deeds, and the Holy 
Prophet jJLj *1)1 JL* did realize that they were hypocrites. Mentioned 
in the present verse appearing above there are hypocrites whose hy¬ 
pocrisy was so perfect in its camouflage that it remained hidden from 
the Holy Prophet jJl-j *Jlc *1)1 until then. In this verse, two Divine 
punishments to come much before ’Akhirah upon such diehard hypo¬ 
crites have been mentioned. In the first instance, right here in this 
world, they are consumed by the concern to hide their hypocrisy and 
the fear that it may be exposed. Then, no less a punishment is their 
being under compulsion to respect and follow Islam and Muslims, at 
least outwardly, despite their extreme malice and hostility for them. 
And then, there is the other punishment, the punishment of the grave 
and the punishment of Barzakh (the post-death ~ pre-resurrection 
state) that will reach them well before Qiyamah (doomsday) and 
’Akhirah (Hereafter). 


Verses 102 -106 


£(?fiLLi SU£ ijkJS. ujj, i is* 'S±\ agS# 


J>s . * 




of Tj£ju 4 \$ 

ijji CoJ l>^i ji Sibj & igi\ si ihi 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 - 106 


455 


* ‘p£r v 0- 121 


And there are others who admitted their sins while 
they had mixed a good deed with another that was evil. 
It is likely that Allah will relent towards them. Surely, 
Allah is Most Forgiving, Very Merciful. (102] 

Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah (obligatory alms) 
through which you may cleanse and purify them. Sure¬ 
ly, your prayer is peace for them. And Allah is (All-) 
Hearing, (All-) Knowing. [103] 


Have they not come to know that Allah is He who ac¬ 
cepts repentance from His slaves and takes the §adaqat, 
and that Allah is Most-Relenting, Very-Merciful. [104] 

And say, “Do (what you do) Allah will see your deed, as 
will the Messenger and the believers.” And you shall be 
returned to the Knower of the Seen and the Unseen, 
then He will tell you what you have been doing. [105] 

And there are others whose matter is deferred till the 
command of Allah (comes): either He punishes them or 
relents towards them. And Allah is All-Knowing, Wise. 

[106] 


Commentary 

When Muslims were given a general call for Jihad at Tabuk, the 
weather was extremely hot. The journey was long and they were sup¬ 
posed to be up against the trained army of a big state, the first such 
episode in Islamic history. These were some of the causes why people 
split into different groups. 

The first group was that of sincere Muslims who got ready for Ji¬ 
had without any hesitation at the very first call. Another group first 

✓ 

hesitated initially, then joined in. They are the ones mentioned in: ^jjf 
i\Z\z (who followed him in the hour of 

hardship after the hearts of a group of them were about to turn 
crooked - 9:117). 

The third group was that of people who were genuinely handi¬ 
capped because of which they could not go. They have been mentioned 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 -106 


456 


^ y ^ , 

in : .,UiaJI J£ jJJ (There is no blame on the weak - 9:91). The fourth 
group belonged to sincere Muslims who had no excuse yet they did not 
take part in the Jihad because of laziness. They have been mentioned 
in oi^j'CAnd there are others who admitted - 9:102) and 
(And there are others whose matter is deferred - 9:106) under study 
now. The fifth group was that of hypocrites who did not participate in 
the Jihad because of hypocrisy. They have been mentioned at several 
places in the previous verses. In short, the fifth group of hypocrites 
featured mostly in previous verses while the present verse (102) men¬ 
tions people in the fourth group, that is, those who, despite being true 
Muslims, did not participate in the Jihad because of laziness. 

It was said in the first verse (102) that some had admitted their 
sins. Their deeds were mixed. Some of their deeds were good while 
some others were bad. For them, there was hope that Allah Ta‘ala may 
accept their repentance. Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas *i* *1)1 said, 
‘Ten persons did not go for the battle of Tabuk. They had no valid 
excuse for it. Later, they were sorry for what they had done. Seven of 
them tied themselves up to the pillars of the Mosque of the Holy 
Prophet JLj *1)1 resolving that they would continue to remain tied 
as they were like prisoners until the Holy Prophet JLy **ic *1)1 j-a were to 
accept their repentance and untie them. All narratives of the incident 
agree that Sayyidna Abu Lubabah *** *1)1 was one of them. As for 
other names, narratives differ. 

When the Holy Prophet ^ j *JLt *1)1 Jl* saw them so tied up and he 
was told that they had resolved to remain tied until the Holy Prophet 

*-le *1)1 Jl*. unties them, he said, ‘By Allah, I too shall not untie them 
until Allah Ta‘ala orders me to do that. The crime is serious.’ Thereup¬ 
on, this verse (102) was revealed and the Holy Prophet ,jl.j *-L& *1)1 or¬ 
dered that they be untied. They were. (Qurtubi) 

According to a narrative of Sa‘id ibn al-Musaiyyab, when people 
went to untie Sayyidna Abu Lubabah *l t *1)1 he refused and said, ‘I 

shall remain tied until the Holy Prophet (Jl-j *lll Jl* does not, with 
his pleasure, untie me with his own blessed hands.’ So, when he came 
for the Fajr Salah, he himself untied him. 

What were these mixed deeds? 

It has been said in the verse that they had mixed a good deed with 
another that was evil. Obvious among the good ones were ’Iman, Salah, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 -106 


457 


and Fasting. Then, they had participated in earlier battles with the 
Holy Prophet *Jlc *1)1 And then, following this battle of Tabuk in 
which they could not participate, they had admitted their misconduct, 
were ashamed of it and had repented. As for the evil ones, they had 
not participated in the battle of Tabuk and thus they had acted in a 
manner that resembled the approach of the hypocrites. 

Mixed Deeds of all the Muslims are governed by the same rule 

It appears in Tafsir al-Qurtubi that this verse though revealed 
about a particular group, is universal in its application and the injunc¬ 
tion it carries is valid until the day of Qiyamah. It covers Muslims 
whose deeds are a mixture of the good and the bad. If they were to re¬ 
pent from their sins, it can be hoped that they shall be pardoned and 
forgiven. 

Abu ‘Uthman *1)1 has said, ‘this verse of the Holy Qur’In 
brings great hope for this ummah.’ A detailed Hadith relating to the 
Ascension of the Holy Prophet Jl-j *JU *1)1 Jl» appearing in the Sahih of 
Al-Bukharl on the authority of Sayyidna Samurah ibn Jundub *ic *1)1 
says, ‘On the seventh heaven, when the Holy Prophet ^JLj *JLc *1)1 met 
with Sayyidna Ibrahim r UI *_Jx, he saw some people with him whose 
faces were bright. And some of them had some spots and stains on 
their faces. When these people went into a stream and came out all 
washed up, their faces had also turned bright. The Archangel Jibra’il 
told the Holy Prophet jJLj -uU *1)1 that these people with bright faces 
you saw first were those who had professed faith and then kept clean 
from sins: U2 1IJlJspj (those who have believed and have not 

mixed their faith with injustice - 6:82). The others were people who did 
what was a mixture of good and evil, but repented later. Allah 
accepted their repentance and their sins were forgiven.’ (Qurtubl) 

The imperative: Isis* jX : “Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah 

(obligatory alms)” in the second verse (103) has its background. Some 
people, as mentioned a little earlier, had stayed back from the battle of 
Tabuk without a valid excuse. Then, out of remorse, they had tied 
themselves to the pillars of the Mosque. Then came the acceptance of 
their repentance as revealed in the previous verse (102) and they were 
released from their self-imprisonment. When this happened, they pre¬ 
sented their entire wealth as a token of their gratitude so that it could 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 -106 


458 


be given out as Sadaqah. The Holy Prophet jJLj aJlc *1)1 refused to ac¬ 
cept it by saying that he did not have the authority to take it. There¬ 
upon, this verse (103): (Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah) 

was revealed and he accepted to take one third of it as Sadaqah. He 
did not take the entire wealth, rather, took a part of it - as indicated 
in the verse. The preposition (min: out of) proves it. 

Collection and disbursement of Zakah is the responsibility of 
an Islamic State 

Though, according to the background of the revelation, the collec¬ 
tion of Sadaqah was to be made from a particular group of people but, 
the words being general, they have universal application. 

This is the view preferred in Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Ahkam al-Qur’an by 
al-Jassas, Tafsir Mazhari and others. Al-Qurtubi and Al-Jassas has 
gone on to further explain it. According to them, even if the same par¬ 
ticular event is taken to be the cause of the revelation in this verse, 
still then, in terms of the Qur’anic principle, this injunction shall re¬ 
main general - and shall remain binding on Muslims right through 
the day of Qiyamah. The reason is that most of the injunctions of the 
Holy Qur’an were revealed in the background of one or the other par¬ 
ticular event, but nobody has ever held that their application remains 
restricted to that particular event. In fact, unless there is a certain 
proof of its particularization, that injunction is invariably regarded as 
universally applicable to all Muslims. 

On the basis of the same principle, the entire Muslim ummah 
agrees that, though the address in this verse is to the Holy Prophet 

aJLc *1)1, yet this injunction is neither restricted to him, nor to his 
period of time. Instead of that, every such person who will succceed 
the Holy Prophet JLj *Jlc JL)I as the Amir of Muslims shall be the 
addressee of this injunction, and the assignee to carry it out. It will be 
one of his duties that he administers the collection of Zakah and 
Sadaqat paid by Muslims and ensures that these are disbursed on 
authorized heads. 

Even in the event of Jihad declared against those who refused to 
pay Zakah during the initial stage of the Caliphate of Sayyidna Abu 
Bakr *lc Jji there were some non-payers of Zakah who had openly 
rebelled against Islam and had turned apostates. Then, there were 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 - 106 


459 


some others who called themselves Muslims and did not refuse that 
Zakah was a religious obligation, but the excuse they made for not 
paying Zakah was that the authority given to the Holy Prophet to 
collect Zakah from them was valid during the life of the Holy Prophet 
jg only, and they kept paying Zakah that time. Now, after he has 
passed away, they questioned, what right did Abu Bakr have to de¬ 
mand Zakah and Sadaqat from them? In the beginning, Sayyidna 
‘Umar -u* *lJl hesitated about waging Jihad against them for the rea¬ 
son that they were after all Muslims who wanted to avoid paying Za¬ 
kah under the cover of a verse of the Qur’an - therefore, they should 
not be treated in the manner usual apostates are treated. But, Sayyid¬ 
na Abu Bakr ^ *lJi had reached an irrevocable decision. He said, ‘we 
shall wage Jihad against anyone who will differentiate between Salah 
and Zakah.’ 

This gave a clear hint. Today people say that the injunction of Za¬ 
kah is particular to the Holy Prophet & and that it stands dropped af¬ 
ter his demise. Tomorrow they may say that Salah too was particular 
to the Holy Prophet jg; - because, a verse of the Qur’an reads: 

jjjjj (Establish prayer at the decline of the sun - 17:78) where the 
Holy Prophet Mr is the addressee. But, the injunction of the verse of 
prayer is universal. It applies to the entire Muslim ummah. So, this 
verse cannot save those who wrongly interpret it as being particular to 
the Holy Prophet M from becoming kafirs. Similarly, this interpreta- 
tion in the verse: JU. (Take out of their wealth a Sadaqah) will 

not save them from kufr and apostasy. Thereupon, Sayyidna ‘Umar 
Jjl was also satisfied and it was with the consensus of the Sahabah 
that Jihad was launched against them. 

Zakah is ‘Ibadah, not a government tax 

In the statement: li (Take out of their wealth) appearing 

soon after: 14 , (a Sadaqah [obligatory alms] through 

which you may cleanse and purify them) in verse 103 of the Holy 
Qur’an, there is a clear hint that Zakah and Sadaqat are not like taxes 
that governments collect to run the system. The truth of the matter is 
that their purpose is to cleanse the men of wealth themselves from 
sins. 

At this point, it should be noted that the collection of Zakah and 
Sadaqat yields two benefits. The first benefit is received by the owner 
of the wealth himself through which he comes out clean from sins and 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 - 106 


460 


from the germs of moral diseases that are generated by the greed for 
wealth. As for the other benefit, it provides support for the weaker 
components of the society, people who are incapable of finding what 
they need to eke out an existence. Orphaned children, widows, crip¬ 
pled and handicapped men and women, common people who are poor 
and needy are obvious examples. 

But, at this place, the Holy Qur’an has told us about the first bene¬ 
fit only. Thus, by confining itself in that manner, it has also given the 
indication that the first benefit is what happens to be the real objec¬ 
tive of Zakah and Sadaqat, The second benefit comes as a corollary. 
Therefore, in the event there is no orphan, widow, or a poor or needy 
person present at any place or time, still then, the injunction of Zakah 
as applicable to the wealthy will not stand dropped. 

What has been stated here has its support in the practice of past 
communities. When some part of wealth or property was set aside for 
Allah, its use became impermissible for everyone. Rather, according to 
the custom, this offering was put at some detached place where came a 
lightning from the heavens and burnt it up. This was a sign that Allah 
Ta'ala has accepted the Sadaqah. When this heavenly fire did not 
come, it was supposed to be a sign of the Sadaqah remaining unaccept¬ 
able. Nobody would then touch this ill-omened property. 

This makes it clear that the legal enforcement of Zakah and Sada¬ 
qat is not exclusively designed to alleviate the suffering of needy peo¬ 
ple. In fact, it is a financial obligation and an act of ‘Ibadah — very sim¬ 
ilar to praying and fasting that are acts of physical ‘Ibadah. This is one 
of the distinctions of the blessed community of Muslims that their poor 
and needy have been allowed to use wealth set aside in the way of Al¬ 
lah. A Sahih Hadith from Muslim reports its confirmation from the 
Holy Prophet J-,j *lJI 

A question and its answer 

A question arises here - when the repentance of these gentlemen 
was accepted following the event mentioned above, it stands estab¬ 
lished that sins were forgiven and purification was accomplished 
through the very act of repentance. What then, would be the sense of 
declaring that a portion from their wealth was being taken to purify 
them? 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 102 -106 


461 


The answer is that the sin has, no doubt, been forgiven by virtue of 
the repentance, but it is quite possible that it may have left behind 
some residual effects following the forgiveness of sin which could be¬ 
come the cause of falling into sin. $adaqah removes such residual ef¬ 
fects and makes purification perfect. 

The word: >jL» (salah) used in the expression: j_s; (and pray for 

them - 103) means praying for Allah’s mercy. This corresponds to what 
has been reported from the Holy Prophet ju *J)i - that he prayed 
for some people by using this very word: salah, for example: Jl'jli 
cr»J ( i jij (O Allah, bless the family of Abu Awfa) as is reported in a Ha- 
dith. But, later on the use of the word: salat became special to proph¬ 
ets, may peace be upon them. Therefore, Muslim jurists say that now 
one should not pray for anyone using the word: salah. Instead, the use 
of this word should be limited to prophets to avoid any ambiguousness 
or doubt. 1 (Bayan al-Qur’an etc.) 

Here we see that the Holy Prophet ^JL, -Jit Jji has been asked to 
pray for those who give Sadaqah. On this basis, some Muslim jurists 
rule that it is wajib (obligatory, necessary) for the Muslim head of the 
state (Imam, ’Amir) to pray for those who give Sadaqah. However, 
there are others who take this command to be of a recommendatory 
nature ( mustahabb : recommended). (Qurtubl) 

Let us now turn to the statement: *1) (J (And there are 

others whose matter is deferred till the command of Allah - 106). We 
already know that seven of the ten believers, who had missed the bat¬ 
tle of Tabuk without a valid excuse, had demonstrated their heart-felt 
remorse by tying themselves up to the pillars of the Prophet’s Mosque. 
The injunction which covers them appeared in the first verse (102): 
ijijSl (And there are others who admitted their sins). Verse 106 is now 
referring to the other three gentlemen who had not done what the 
group of seven had done in the Masjid. Thus, they had not admitted 
their misconduct openly. In their case, the Holy Prophet JL.j *-JLc *1)1 
ordered his Companions to see that Muslims boycott them by not talk¬ 
ing to them. When things reached those limits, they learnt their les- 


1. However, it is permissible to use this word for others in conjunction with 
a prophet. It is therefore allowed to say, jlZ 

(Muhammad Taqi IJsmani) 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 107 - 110 


462 


son, confessed to their misconduct and repented sincerely, following 
which orders were given for their pardon. (Sahlh al-Bukhar! and Muslim) 


Verses 107 - 110 



And (there are) those who have built a mosque to cause 
mischief and infidelity and to create dissention among 
the believers and to make preparations for one who 
has been at war with Allah and His Messenger even be¬ 


fore. And they will certainly swear (and say), “We in¬ 
tended nothing but good.” And Allah testifies that they 
are liars. [107] 


Do not ever stand there (in prayer). In fact, the mosque 
that was founded on Taqwa (piety) from the very first 
day is more-worthy that you stand there. In it there are 
people who like to observe purity; and Allah loves 
those observing purity. [108] 

Is, then, a person who has founded his building on fear 
from Allah and His pleasure better or the one who has 
founded his building on the edge of an abyss about to 
collapse, so it did collapse with him into the fire of Ja- 
hannam? And Allah does not give guidance to the un¬ 
just people. [109] 

The building they have made shall always remain a 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 ; 107 - 110 


463 


source of doubt in their hearts unless their hearts are 
cut into pieces. And Allah is All-Knowing, Wise. [110] 

Commentary 

Anti-Islam activities of hypocrites have been described in several 
previous verses. The present verses mention yet another conspiracy 
hatched by them. It has been reported that there was a man in Madi- 
nah. His name was Abu Amir. He had become a Christian during the 
days of Jahiliyyah and was known as Abu Amir the Rahib (that is, a 
monk). This is the same Abu Amir whose son Hanzalah -llc Jill ^j is a 
well-known Sahabi whose dead body was washed by angels and which 
gave him the sobriquet of‘the one who was bathed by angels.’ But, the 
father stuck by his error and remained a Christian. 

When the Holy Prophet pJL-j *Ju. Jji came to Madinah, Abu Amir 
the Rahib visited him and criticized Islam. Even the answers given by 
the Holy Prophet <1)1 did not satisfy this unfortunate man. In 

fact, he said, ‘may the liar between the two of us be cursed and die in 
travel far away from friends and relatives.’ He also said, ‘I shall be 
there to help any aggressor against you.’ And so he did. He fought on 
the side of the enemies of Muslims in all battles right through the bat¬ 
tle of Hunain. When the big and strong tribe of Hawazin too was de¬ 
feated, he lost hope. He ran away to Syria, the stronghold of Chris¬ 
tians where he died far away from his friends and relatives. The 
prayer he had made was before him. When disgrace is destined for 
someone, this is how he acts. His own prayer brought that disgrace 
upon him. 

But, as long as he lived, he remained busy hatching conspiracies 
against Islam and Muslims. He virtually tried to induce the Byzantine 
ruler to attack Madinah and expel Muslims from there. 

One aspect of this conspiracy materialized when he wrote a letter 
to the hypocrites of Madinah with whom he had a sinister understand¬ 
ing. He told them that he was working on the Byzantine ruler to at¬ 
tack Madinah. But, it was necessary to have group strength to lend lo¬ 
cal support to the invader. For this purpose, he suggested that they 
should make a building right there in Madinah giving people the im¬ 
pression that they were building a mosque so that Muslims do not get 
to be suspicious. After that, they should get their men together in this 
place and collect as much of weapons and supplies as they could. He 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 107 - 110 


464 


wanted this to become an undercover center where his accomplices 
would be conducting their activities against Muslims by mutual con¬ 
sultation. 

It was on his suggestion that twelve hypocrites got together in 
Quba’, a locality of Madinah where the Holy Prophet ,jL,j <JU. JL)I had 
first stayed during his hijrah and where he had built a masjid. They 
chose the same place to lay the foundation of another ‘masjid.’ Ibn 
Ishaq and others have also reported the names of these hypocrites. 
Then, to keep Muslims under deception, the hypocrites made a plan 
that they would have the Holy Prophet jju, *Ju. lead a Salah in 

congregation at their so-called masjid so that all Muslims are con¬ 
vinced that this new place was also a masjid very much like the one 
built there earlier. 

A delegation from them came to the Holy Prophet Jji JL». 

They pleaded that the existing Masjid of Quba' was far away. It was 
difficult for old and sick people to reach there. Moreover, they argued, 
the Masjid of Quba’ itself was not spacious enough to accommodate all 
residents of the locality. Therefore, they claimed, they had founded an¬ 
other masjid for that purpose so that older Muslims may benefit by it. 
Finally, (releasing their punch line) they said, ‘please lead a Salah in 
this ‘ masjid ’ so that it stands blessed!’ 

That was a time when the Holy Prophet pi-, Jjl was getting 
ready for the battle of Tabuk. He told them that he would be unable to 
do that as he was about to leave the city but he promised that he 
would pray there when he returned. 

However, on his return from the battle of Tabuk, when he camped 
at a place close to Madinah, the verses cited above were revealed to 
him which had exposed the conspiracy of these hypocrites. After the 
revelation of these verses, the Holy Prophet Jji JL. ordered some 

of his Companions, ‘Amir ibn Sakan, Wahshi, the killer of Hamzah and 
others, to go, demolish and burn the structure (of the ill-intentioned 
‘masjid’). So these gentlemen took off, carried out the orders and the 
structure was leveled flat on the ground. (This event has been abridged from 
narratives reported in Tafsir al-Qurtubi and Mazhari.) 

Quoting Muhammad ibn Yusuf Salihi, Tafsir Mazhari also reports 
that the site of Masjid Dirar was still lying vacant at the time the Holy 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 107 - 110 


465 


Prophet |JLuj *-1c *1)1 had reached and settled in Madinah. When he al¬ 
lowed ‘Asim ibn ‘Adiyy to build his house on that site, he submitted, ‘ya 
rasulallah, I do not like to build a house on a cursed site about which 
these verses of the Qur’an have been revealed. Nevertheless, Thabit 
ibn Aqram is really in need of a house for he has none. Please allow 
him to make a house here.’ So, going along with his suggestion, he 
gave this plot of land to Thabit ibn Aqram. But, as fate would have it, 
since the time Sayyidna Thabit *ie. *1)1 came to live in the house he 
made there, he either had no child or if he did, the child did not live. 

Historians have added that this place was cursed not only for hu¬ 
man beings but also for domestic birds and animals that could not sur¬ 
vive with their normal way of living. Thus, after that time, this place 
lies desolate at some distance from the well-known Masjid Quba’. 

After having gone through the details of the event, let us now turn 
to the text of the cited verses. It was said in the first verse (107): gjjij 
\jli ul (And [there are] those who have built a mosque) to bring 
harm upon Muslims. 

This verse points out to three motives behind the making of this 
‘masjid.': 

1. The first one is: ( diraran : to cause harm to Muslims). The 

words j\ yk>: dir ad and jj^'.darad are both used in the Arabic language to 
carry the sense of causing harm. As for difference between the two, it 
has been said that ‘ darad is a harm that brings gain for the person 
harming but causes loss for the harmed. And ‘dirad is the inflicting of a 
loss upon other people while it brings just no gain for the person in¬ 
flicting it. Since, this was going to be the fate of this ‘ masjid ’ — that its 
founders gain nothing out of it - therefore, the word ‘ dirad was used 
here. 

2. The second motive reads: jL' r UjLf (to cause dissention among 

the believers). It means that, by setting up this ‘masjid' , they looked 
forward to creating a division among the community of Muslims. They 
hoped to wean out a group that would be offering Salah in their masjid 
as a sort of separate entity. Then, it may have also resulted in reduc¬ 
ing the number of Muslims going for their prayers to the old Masjid 
Quba’. 

f „ 

3. The third motive was spelt out as: 4UIijlijn.e. to provide a 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 ; 107 - 110 


466 


sanctuary to enemies of Allah and His Messenger and a forum to con¬ 
spire against Muslims. 

This presentation as a whole proves that the ‘masjid’ which was de¬ 
clared to be a ‘harmful mosque’ (Masjid Dirar) by the Holy Qur’an, and 
which was demolished and burnt down under the orders of the Holy 
Prophet (Jl-j <±e. *1)1 was no masjid in the real sense. Nor was it in¬ 
tended to be a place where people could pray. The three objectives be¬ 
hind it have been mentioned immediately above. From here we learn 
the rules that should be followed in our time. Today, may be some 
Muslims were to make a masjid close to and in competition of another 
Masjid, while their purpose is nothing but the same mutual discord, 
the same old effort to split up the congregation of the first masjid, or 
any other evil interest of this nature. If so, the maker of such a masjid 
will deserve no reward from Allah. Rather, he would be a sinner be¬ 
cause of having created dissention between Muslims - but, despite all 
this, that place shall be called a masjid in terms of Islamic law, and 
the etiquette and rules relating to mosques shall apply to it. Demolish¬ 
ing it or putting it on fire shall not be permissible. And the Salah of 
those who pray in it will also be valid - though, doing so shall continue 
to be a sin in itself. 

From here we also learn about another rule relevant in contempo¬ 
rary setting. If a Muslim makes a masjid in that manner, either to 
show off or to take an opposing stance out of obstinacy and enmity, the 
maker will, though, not get the reward of making a masjid, instead, 
will incur a sin, yet it will not be what Masjid Dirar is in the terminol¬ 
ogy of the Holy Qur’an, that is, it will not be called by that name. 
When some people notice a masjid like that, they would say that it was 
Masjid Dirar. This is not correct. However, one could say that it was 
like Masjid Dirar. Therefore, its building can also be stayed - as done 
by Sayyidna ‘Umar *lil through a court order where he had in¬ 
structed that another masjid should not be made close to the one al¬ 
ready there lest the congregation and flourish of the first masjid is af¬ 
fected adversely. (Tafsir Kashshaf) 

About this Masjid Dirar, the Holy Prophet Jl.j *Jut *1)1 has been 
given the order: Ijiuii :‘Do not ever stand there (in prayer) - 108.’ 
The word ‘qiyam’ in the text denotes standing for prayer. The sense is 
that the Holy Prophet pJ-j Jjl should never go in to offer his 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 107 - 110 


467 


prayers in a mosque by that name. 

Ruling: 

What it tells us is: If, even today, a new masjid is made adjacent to 
the one already there unnecessarily, just to show off or to take an op¬ 
posing stance out of obstinacy and enmity, the better choice is not to 
offer prayers therein - though, Salah remains valid. 

In the same verse (108), the Holy Prophet jJLj *1)1 JL* has also 
been told that it is correct for him to pray in the particular masjid the 
foundation of which has been laid on Taqwa (the fear of Allah) from 
day one. And then, the people who offer their Salah in it love to observe 
full precaution in remaining cleansed and pure (of all physical and 
spiritual impurities) - for Allah too likes such meticulous observers of 
self-purity. 

The context of the verse shows what is being referred to here is 
Masjid Quba’ where the Holy Prophet jJl-, -lJlc *1)1 used to say his 
prayers at that time. There are some Hadith narratives that also sup¬ 
port this view. (As reported by Ibn Marduwayh from Ibn ‘Abbas, by ‘Amr ibn Shai- 
bah from Sahl al-Ansari and by Ibn Khuzaimah in his Sahih from ‘Uwaimir ibn Sa'idah 
- with reference to Mazhari) 

As for the reports which say that it refers to the Prophet’s Mosque, 
they do not contradict it. The reason is that the foundation of the 
Mosque of the Prophet was laid in accordance with a revealed com¬ 
mand by the Holy Prophet *Ju. *lll with his blessed hands. It goes 
without saying that its foundation rests on Taqwa, that is, on purity, 
piety and fear of Allah. And who else could be more purified than the 
noble messenger of Allah? Therefore, that too is is a masjid founded on 
taqwa. (As reported by Tirmidhi on sound authority from Sayyidna Abu Sa‘id al- 
Khudri ^ Jji with the chain of narrators ascending to the Holy Prophet - from 
Qurtubi) 

At the end of the verse (108), it was said: (In it 

there are people who like to observe purity). In this verse, the masjid 
declared worthier for the prayers of the Holy Prophet jJL-j *Jut *1)1 is 
the one the foundation of which was laid on Taqwa from day one. 
Thus, both Masjid Quba’ and the Mosque of the Prophet |Ju-,*Jlx. *1)1 
are included in the sense of the verse. Also pointed to in this verse 
there is yet another merit of this masjid - that those who prayed in 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 ; 107 - 110 


468 


this masjid were a kind of people who did their best to remain cleansed 
and pure. The word for purity used in the text is Taharah. The sense of 
Taharah at this place includes purity from common filth and impuri¬ 
ties, as well as purity from sins and bad morals. Those who offered 
their prayers in Masjid Quba’ and the Prophet’s Mosque were general¬ 
ly equipped with all these virtues. 

Special Note 

From here we also come to know that the merit or superiority of a 
masjid really depends on the fact that it should have been made with 
absolute sincerity for the sake of Allah. And to put it conversely, there 
should not be any trace of duplicity, any motive to earn name, fame 
and recognition, or any other false and corrupting interest involved in 
its making. Then, we also learn that the quality of those who pray in a 
masjid is significant. If they are good, righteous, knowledgeable about 
their religion (‘Alim) and are devoted to the worship of Allah (‘Abid), 
the superiority of the masjid increases. Offering prayers in a masjid 
frequented by such God-fearing people is more merit worthy. 

In the third (109) and the fourth (110) verses, Masjid Dirar (the 
harmful mosque) made by the hypocrites has been condemned as it 
has to be when compared with a masjid that is blessed. This has been 
accomplished through the use of a similitude. The surface of the land 
on which they were laying the foundation of their ‘ masjid ’ has been lik¬ 
ened to a landmass that has been corroded on the inside by flowing 
water. The topsoil looks solid and smooth. Now, if someone starts 
building there, it is obvious that the whole thing would collapse in¬ 
stantly. Similarly, the foundation of this Masjid Dirar was inherently 
unstable. The result was that it collapsed and went right into the fire 
of Jahannam. The expression ‘collapsed into the fire of Jahannam’ 
could be figurative in its sense - in that it smoothed out the way of Ja¬ 
hannam for its makers. Some others have taken it in the real sense - 
in that the masjid, when made to collapse, went into the Jahannam. 
Allah knows best. 

Then, in the last verse (110), it was said that this building would al¬ 
ways keep increasing the doubt and hypocrisy in their hearts unless 
their hearts are shredded into pieces. The sense is that their doubt, 
hypocrisy, envy and chagrin would go on increasing right to the end of 
their life. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 111 - 112 


469 


Verses 111-112 



Surely, Allah has bought their lives and their wealth 
from the believers, against (a promise) that Paradise 
shall be for them. They fight in the way of Allah, and 
kill and are killed - a promise on His part which is true 
(as made) in the Torah and the Injil and the Qur’an. 

And who can fulfill his covenant more than Allah? So, 
rejoice in the deal you have made, and that is the great 
achievement. [Ill] 

(They are) those who repent, those who worship, those 
who praise (Allah), those who journey, those who bow 
in ruku\ those who prostrate in sajdah , those who bid 
the Fair and forbid the Unfair and those who preserve 
the limits prescribed by Allah. And give the good news 
to the believers. [112] 

Commentary 

Sequence 

Previous verses carried a condemnation of those staying behind 
without a valid excuse and missing the Jihad. The present verses take 
up the merit of mujahidin . 

The background of revelation 

As explained by the majority of commentators, these verses were 
revealed about the participants of Bai‘atul-'Aqabah (the pledge of alle¬ 
giance to the Holy Prophet ^ Jjl JU at al-'Aqabah) which was tak¬ 
en from the Ansar of Madinah before Hijrah in Makkah al- 
Mukarramah. Therefore, despite that the entire Surah is Madam, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 111 - 112 


470 


these verses have been termed as Makki. 

‘Al-‘Aqabah’ is part of a mountain. Here, it refers to the ‘Aqabah 
that forms a part of the mountain along the Jamratu al-Aqabah (the 
stone pillar of Aqabah) in Mina. (In our time, due to the increased 
number of Hujjaj [Hajj pilgrims], this part of the mountain has been 
leveled to form a smooth surface with the only exception of Jamarah 
[the stone pillar] which still stands there). It is on this Aqabah that a 
pledge of allegiance lu ( bai‘ah ) was taken from the people of Madinah 
thrice. The first pledge came in the eleventh year of the Prophet’s ad¬ 
vent. Six persons embraced Islam, gave the pledge and returned to 
Madinah. When they arrived there, Islam and the Prophet of Islam be¬ 
came the talk of the town. Next year, it was during the Hajj season 
that twelve people assembled at the same place. Out of these, five had 
taken part in the first pledge while the other seven were new. All of 
them took the pledge. By that time, the number of Muslims in Madi¬ 
nah had increased to more than forty. They requested that someone 
should be sent to teach Qur’an to them. The Holy Prophet jJLy *JU *1)1 
sent Sayyidna Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umair *1)1 ^j. He taught Qur’an to Mus¬ 
lims present there as well as conveyed the message of Islam around, as 
a result of which major groups of people in Madinah entered the fold of 
Islam. 

After that, in the thirteenth year of the Prophet’s advent, seventy 
men and women assembled at the same place. This is the third Bai'atu 
al-Aqabah - and the last. Generally, when reference is made to 
Bai'atu al-Aqabah, it means this very Bai‘ah (pledge of allegiance). 
This pledge made it binding on participants that they would uphold 
the basic beliefs (‘ aqa’id ) and deeds ( a‘mal ) of Islam, and would particu¬ 
larly be ready to take part in Jihad against the disbelievers, and pro¬ 
tect and support the Holy Prophet JLj *Ju. *1)1 when he migrates and 
reaches Madinah. In this connection, Sayyidna Abdullah ibn Rawahah 
*_l* *1)1 submitted, ‘ya rasulallah, a compact is being made at this 
time. If there are any conditions regarding your Lord or regarding 
yourself, let these be mentioned there clearly.’ He said, As for Allah 
Ta‘ala, I lay down the condition that all of you shall worship Him - 
and worship none but Him. As for myself, the condition is that you 
shall protect me as you protect your own lives, wealth, property and 
children.’ They asked, ‘if we fulfill these two conditions, what shall we 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 111 - 112 


471 


get in return?’ He said, ‘you will get Jannah.’ All in delight, they said, 
‘we are pleased with this deal, so pleased that we shall never request 
on our own that it be cancelled nor shall we like it to be cancelled. 


At this place, since the pledge took the apparent form of a transac¬ 
tion of give and take, this verse (ill) was revealed in the terminology 
of a business deal: iJJI (Surely, Allah 


has bought their lives and their wealth from the believers, against 
which Paradise shall be for them). After hearing this verse, Sayyidna 
Bara’ ibn Ma'rur, Abu al-Haitham and As‘ad ,>***»! ^ JJI ^ were the 
first ones who placed their hands on the blessed hand of the Holy 
Prophet ,Xj .l-U Jji They were promising in effect that they were 
readily agreeable to this deal and they would protect the Holy Prophet 
as they protected their family and would stand by him to face any 
challenge, even if it came from the combined forces of the blacks and 
whites on this Earth. 


This is the very first verse of Jihad 

Injunctions of Jihad did not exist during the early Makkan period. 
This is first verse about fighting and killing which was revealed in 
Makkah al-Mukarramah itself, though its implementation began after 
Hijrah. After that, came another verse: b*) (Permission [to 

fight] has been given to those who are being fought against - al-Hajj 
22:39). When this Bai‘atu al-‘Aqabah (pledge of‘Aqabah) was concluded 
in secret from the disbelievers of Makkah, the Holy Prophet Jji 
ordered his noble Companions to migrate from Makkah to Madi- 
nah. Groups of them started migrating gradually. The Holy Prophet 
aJu; .dll remained behind waiting for the permission from Allah 
Ta‘ala. When Sayyidna Abu Bakr cs. JJI decided to migrate, he held 
him back so that he could accompany him. (This whole event has been de¬ 
scribed in Tafsir Mazhari with relevant references) 

We can now move to the second sentence of the verse (ill): & ojk&t 
(ji) *1)1 (They fight in the way of Allah, and kill 
and are killed ... a promise on His part which is true (as made) in the 
Torah and the Injil and the Qur’an). This verse tells us that fighting in 
the way of Allah was a commandment also revealed for past communi¬ 
ties in their Scriptures. As for the popular assumption that there is no 
injunction of Jihad in the Injil, it is possible that, as part of the chang¬ 
es made by people who came later, the injunctions of Jihad were ex- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9:111-112 


472 


punged. Allah knows best. 

At the end of the verse (111), it was said: (So, rejoice in 

the deal you have made). The agreement arrived at with the Holy 
Prophet fJLj *itl JL* in this event of the Bai'atu al-‘Aqabah had, on 
the surface, turned into a sort of buying and selling deal. Therefore, it 
was expressed through the word: . Il^i (Allah has bought) at the begin¬ 
ning of the verse. In the present sentence, Muslims were told that they 
had struck a good deal which will bring blessings for them. The reason 
was that they had tendered their life and wealth that were mortal 
while that which they received in return was eternal. If we come to 
think about it, we would realize that wealth was the only thing they 
spent out. As for life, that is, the essential spirit, that will remain even 
after death, and remain forever. And if we were to look deeper into the 
reality of wealth, that too happens to be nothing but the gift of Allah 
Almighty. When born, human beings visit the world empty-handed. It 
was He who made them own everything around them and it was He 
who made His own gift the price of eternal blessings and gave them 
Paradise. Therefore, Sayyidna ‘Umar said, ‘this is a strange 

deal where the commodity and the price have both been given to you!’ 

The sage, Hasan al-Basri said, ‘Behold, what a profitable business 
is this that Allah has thrown open to every believer!’ And he also said, 
‘It is Allah who has blessed you with wealth and property. Spend a lit¬ 
tle out of it and buy Paradise.’ (Mazhari) 

The last verse (112) which begins with the words: ■jiJjl ‘‘(They 
are) those who repent, those who worship...) describes the attributes 
of the same believers about whom it was said earlier that Allah has 
bought their lives and their wealth from the believers, against which 
Paradise shall be for them. Though, the verse was revealed as relating 
to a particular group of participants in the Bai‘atu al-‘Aqabah, but the 
sense of the verse covers all mujahidin in the way of Allah. As for the 
list of their attributes which opens with: (those who repent), they 

are not there as a condition, because the promise of Paradise has been 
made for Jihad in the way of Allah, in an absolute sense. The purpose 
behind the delineation of these attributes is to stress that those who 
deserve Paradise do have such attributes - as was specially the case 
with the noble Companions who were a party to Bai'atu al-‘Aqabah. 

The word: SjiASJI ( as-sa’ihun : translated literally as ‘those who jour- 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 113 - 114 


473 


ney’), according to the majority of commentators, means those who fast 
( sa’imun ). Actually, this word has been derived from: ( siyahah : 

journey, pilgrimage). Before Islam, siyahah was taken to be an act of 
worship in the Christian religion that meant leaving home for the sake 
of worship. Islam declared it to be monasticism, and prohibited it. It 
was replaced with fasting as an act of worship. The reason is that siya¬ 
hah taught disengagement from worldly life while fasting taught that 
one should abstain from worldly desires for a limited period of time liv¬ 
ing at home. It is on the same basis that Jihad too has been equated 
with siyahah in some reports. Ibn Majah, Hakim and Baihaqi have au¬ 
thentically reported that the Holy Prophet said: 

J)l (The siyahah of my ummah is Jihad in the way of Allah). 

Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas *1)1 has said that ( sa’ihin: 

those who journey) in the Qur’an means: ( sa’imin : those who fast). 

' _ _ 

Explaining ( as-sa’ihin : those who journey), ‘Ikrimah said, ‘they 
are students who leave their homes to seek religious knowledge.’ 
(Mazhari) 

At this place, seven attributes of believing mujahidin have been de¬ 
scribed as those who repent, those who worship, those who praise Al¬ 
lah, those who journey, those who bow in ruku‘, those who prostrate in 
sajdah, those who bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair. After having 
enumerated these seven attributes, the eighth attribute was put as: 
Jjl ijxi ‘those who preserve the limits prescribed by Allah.’ Actu¬ 

ally, this expression is an embodiment of all attributes mentioned ear¬ 
lier. In other words, the details given in those seven attributes have 
been eloquently reduced to one small sentence which means that they 
are committed to the limits set by Allah, that is, they obey, adhere to 
and protect the injunctions of the Shari‘ah of Islam. 

At the end of the verse (112), it was said: jliS (And give the 

good news to the believers). It means that the Prophet of Islam should 
convey to believers who have the attributes mentioned above the good 
news of blessings nobody could ever imagine, nor could it be explained 
in words, nor has anyone heard about it from any source. The refer¬ 
ence is to the ultimate blessings of Paradise. 


Verses 113 - 114 





Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 113 -114 


474 





It is not for the Prophet and the believers to seek for¬ 
giveness for the Mushriks*, even if they are kinsmen, 
after it became clear to them that they are the people 
of hell. [113] 

And the prayer of Ibrahim for the forgiveness of his fa¬ 
ther was not but due to a promise he had made to him. 

Later when it became clear to him that he was an ene¬ 
my of Allah, he withdrew himself from him. Surely, Ib¬ 
rahim is oft sighing (before Allah), forbearing. [114] 

Commentary 

The entire Surah Al-Taubah consists of injunctions of absolution 
and withdrawal from kafirs (disbelievers) and mushriks (those who as- 

_ , i ^ j 

sociate partners with Allah). The Surah opens with the words: JJI 
(Here is a withdrawal [proclaimed] by Allah) and that is why this Su¬ 
rah is also known as Surah al-Bara’ah. The injunctions appearing ear¬ 
lier relate to withdrawal and severance of relationships with kafirs 
and mushriks in this worldly life. The same injunction of withdrawal 
and severance of relationships appears in the the present verses, but it 
relates to the life hereinafter. It makes it impermissible even to pray 
for the forgiveness of kafirs and mushriks after their death - as it ap¬ 
pears in a previous verse (84) where the Holy Prophet JLj *Ju. Jill has 

been prohibited from offering funeral prayers for hypocrites. 

The background of revelation 

The event that was the cause or background of the revelation of 
this ayah has been reported in a narrative appearing in the Sahih of al- 
Bukhari and Muslim. According to this report, Abu Talib, the uncle of 
the Holy Prophet jjLy -uLc JUl had not, though, embraced Islam, yet 
he continued to support and protect the Holy Prophet jJLj *1)1 
throughout his life. He did not listen to any member of his clan in this 


*. Those who associate partners with Allah. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 113 - 114 


475 


matter. The Holy Prophet j *Jl& *1)1 Jl* too was concerned about him. 
He wished that his uncle would somehow recite the Kalimah and em¬ 
brace Islam. He would thus be able to intercede on his behalf and he 
could have his deliverance from the punishment of Jahannam. When 
Abu Talib was suffering from his last sickness and death became cer¬ 
tain, the Holy Prophet jJLj *JU *1)1 was worried. He wished if his un¬ 
cle were to recite the Kalimah even now, things might work for him. 
He came close to him in that state of anxiety - but, Abu Jahl and 
‘Abdullah ibn Umayyah (disbelieving diehards) were already there. He 
said, ‘my uncle, recite the Kalimah: *111 fyfll,*} (La ilaha illallah). I shall 
try to seek forgiveness for you.’ But, Abu Jahl interrupted, ‘would you 
forsake the faith of ‘Abd al-Muttalib (father of Abu Talib)?’ The Holy 
Prophet (Ju«j *JU. *1)1 1 _ r L* repeated what he had said several times. But, 
every time, Abu Jahl would say the same thing he had said before - 
until the last words spoken by Abu Talib were, ‘I am on the faith of 
‘Abd al-Muttalib.’ It was in this very condition that he died. Then, the 
Holy Prophet Ju,j *Jlc *1)1 swore that he would continue seeking for¬ 
giveness for him until he was prohibited from it. Thereupon, this verse 
of prohibition was revealed where the Holy Prophet JLy *JU *1)1 ju, and 
all Muslims were prohibited from praying for the forgiveness of kafirs 
and mushriks - even if they were close relatives. 

This put some Muslims into doubt. Was it not, they thought, that 
Sayyidna Ibrahim *Ju. too had prayed for his disbelieving father? 
To answer it, the second verse (114) was revealed: 5^ 12 In gist, 

it means: As for the prayer made by Sayyidna Ibrahim *JLc for his 
father, it was conditioned by circumstances. In the beginning, Sayyid¬ 
na Ibrahim r UI *_±& did not know that he would keep on sticking to his 
disbelief right through the end and would die a disbeliever. In other 
words, his going to Hell was not certain. That was the time when he 
had made the promise that he would pray for his forgiveness: 

£Sj (I shall ask my Lord to forgive you - Maryam 19:47). Later, when it be¬ 
came clear to Sayyidna Ibrahim f Ul *Jlc that he was an enemy of Al¬ 
lah, that is, he had remained a disbeliever right through the end, he 
elected to become indifferent to him and stopped asking pardon for 
him. 

With regard to the mention of Sayyidna Ibrahim r )Ul *4* praying for 
the forgiveness of his father at different places in the Qur’an, it should 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 115 - 116 


476 


all be taken in that sense, whereby it would mean that Allah may give 
him the taufiq of ’Iman and Islam so that he could be forgiven. 

When the disbelievers inflicted a wound on the blessed face of the 
Holy Prophet pL.j *JLt *1)1 during the battle of Uhud, he was seen wip¬ 
ing blood from his face and praying: ffii (O Allah, for¬ 

give my people. They do not know). The object of this prayer of forgive¬ 
ness for the disbelievers is no other but that Allah may bless them 
with the taufiq of ’Iman and Islam so that they could become deserving 
of being forgiven. 

Imam al-Qurtubi said, ‘this proves that it is permissible to pray for 
the forgiveness of a living kafir with the intention that this disbeliev¬ 
ing person may have the taufiq of’Iman and become deserving of for¬ 
giveness.’ 

In the last sentence of the verse (114), it was said: ‘QJ-'ifo' 
(Surely, Ibrahim is oft sighing [before Allah], forbearing). The word: «(,) 
(< awwah ) is used for a host of meanings. Al-Qurtubi has reported fifteen 
meanings of this word but they are all close to each other without any 
real difference between them. Some of these are: one who sighs a lot, 
or one who supplicates profusely, or one who is full of mercy for the 
servants of Allah. This (last) meaning is reported from Sayyidna 
‘Abdullah ibn Mas'ud cs. *1)1 

Verses 115 -116 


^is il iil'vp j i±il djl Uj 
iui dijji ji Sj/SjSd 

And Allah is not to make a people go astray after He 
has given them guidance, unless He explains to them 
what they should avoid. Surely, in respect of every¬ 
thing Allah is (All-) Knowing. [115] 


Surely, to Allah alone belongs the kingdom of the heav¬ 
ens and the earth. He gives life and brings death. And, 
other than Allah, you have neither a supporter, nor a 
helper. [116] 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 - 119 


477 


Verses 117-119 



Surely, Allah has relented towards the Prophet and the 
Muhajirs (Emigrants) and the An$ar (the Supporters) 
who followed him in the hour of hardship after the 
hearts of a group of them were about to turn crooked, 
then He relented towards them. Surely, to them He is 
Very Kind, Very Merciful. [117] 

And (He relented) towards the three whose matter was 
deferred until when the earth was straitened for them 
despite all its vastness, and even their own souls were 
straitened for them, and they realized that there is no 
refuge from Allah, except in Him. Then He turned to¬ 
wards them, so that they may repent. Surely, Allah is 
the Most-Relenting, the Very Merciful. [118] 

O those who believe, fear Allah, and be in the company 
of the truthful. [119] 

Commentary 

p 

In the comments on verse 102: Ipjsli S&ij (And there are those who 
admitted...), it was said that following the general call of Jihad at 
Tabuk which required all Muslims to join in, the people of Madinah 
had split into five groups. Two of them were of those who elected to 
stay behind without any valid excuse, a detailed description of which 
has appeared in previous verses. Here, in the present verses, three 
kinds of sincere believers have been mentioned. First were those who 
responded to the call of Jihad instantly. They have been identified in 
the initial sentence: (who followed fiim in the hour of 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 - 119 


478 


hardship) of verse 117. The second group was of those who hesitated 
during the early stage but recovered soon and got ready for Jihad with 
other participants. They have been described in the sentence: U 
ftOz j/J Jj (after the hearts of a group of them were about to turn 
crooked) of the same verse (117). 


The third group was that of the believers who did not, though, par¬ 
ticipate in the Jihad because of their laziness at that time, yet, later 
on, they regretted and sought forgiveness - and ultimately, the Tau- 
bah made by them was accepted. However, their group was further di¬ 
vided in two types. Originally, they were ten in number. Seven out of 
these men demonstrated their genuine remorse and repentance in¬ 
stantly soon after the return of the Holy Prophet The manner in 
which they did so was unusual. They tied themselves up with the pil¬ 
lars of the Prophet’s Mosque with the resolve that they would stay tied 
as long as their Taubah was not accepted. The verse known as the 
’Ayah of Taubah granting forgiveness for them was revealed immedi¬ 
ately then. Details can be seen under comments on verse 102 . The re¬ 
maining three out of the ten were those who did not act in that man¬ 
ner. The Holy Prophet ,JL,j *JU Jjl asked his Companions to boycott 
them whereby no one was to greet or talk to them. This thing was ter¬ 
rible. It really disturbed them. They have been mentioned in the sec¬ 
ond verse (118) through the words: ijiK 54^1 (And towards the 

three whose matter was deferred) where comes the acceptance of their 
Taubah soon after which the order to boycott them was withdrawn. 


Before we move on to explain the first verse (117): Jull)! ilf & 

5 ^ 1)1 £?jJI jliVij 5 L?$\j (Surely, Allah has relented towards the 


Prophet and the Emigrants and the Supporters who followed him in 
the hour of hardship) in some details, let us answer a question first. 


Is it not that Taubah is done because of having committed an act of 
sin and disobedience? The Holy Prophet X, *X Jjl is protected from 
that ( masurn ). What, then, would be the sense of accepting his Taubah 
(‘relenting towards the Prophet')? In addition to that, there were the 
Sahabah from among the Muhajirin and Ansar who had opted for Jihad 
since the very beginning. They too had not done anything wrong. For 
what crime had they made their Taubah that was accepted? 

The answer is that Allah Ta‘ala made all of them safe from sin. 
This was expressed as Taubah, or that Allah Ta‘ala made all of them 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 -119 


479 


tawwab, those who turn to Allah. This indicates that no one is free 
from the need to make Taubah, not even the Holy Prophet *lJI ^ 
,JL.j and his closest Companions - as it appears in another verse: 

(and turn towards Allah in repentance, all of you - 24:31). The 
reason is that the degrees and ranks of nearness to Allah are endless. 
Whoever has reached a certain station should realize that there is a 
higher station ahead and, as compared to that high station, the 
present one is a shortcoming. The quest must go on. Let one seek for¬ 
giveness for any shortcoming he may have at his present station so 
that he could move on to the next, the higher. 

Coming to words: ;^JI i*Ls (translated as ‘the hour of hardship’) ap¬ 
pearing in verse 117, the Holy Qur’an has employed this expression to 
portray the condition of the Muslims on the occasion of this very Jihad 
because they were poor and straitened on many counts. Hasan al-Basri 
says, ‘they had one mount for every ten men. They had to take turns to 
ride. The wherewithal required for such a trip was very short and ordi¬ 
nary. On the other hand, the heat was intense and scorching. Water in 
en route was scarce and at distances. 

As for the next sentence: ijli”15 jZ/ja (after the hearts of 

a group of them were about to turn crooked), the ( zaigh : crooked¬ 
ness) of the hearts of some people referred to here does not mean some 
deviation from faith. In fact, it means to lose heart and wish to avoid 
action in Jihad because of the hardship of hot weather and the dearth 
of necessary supplies. Hadith narratives prove that. It was in view of 
these hardships they faced that their repentance was accepted. 

Verse 118 begins with the words: JZJiAnd [He relented] 

towards the three whose matter was deferred). Here, the word: 

(khullifu ) literally means ‘those left behind.’ It carries the sense of 
‘those the matter of whose repentance was deferred’ - as opted for in 
the translation of the text. These three gentlemen: Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn 
Malik, Murarah ibn Rabi‘ and Hilal ibn Umayyah ^ Jjl were 
from the Ansar of Madinah and had a distinguished record in the ser¬ 
vice of Islam. Earlier, they had participated in the Bai‘atu al-‘Aqabah 
and in many battles with the Holy Prophet *Jlc Jjl Jl*. But, it was 
only by chance that they slipped in this manner. Then, there were 
those hypocrites who did not take part in this Jihad because of their 
hypocrisy, they gave them the kind of advises that dampened their 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 ; 117 - 119 


480 


courage. But, when the Holy Prophet |JL.j All returned from this 
Jihad, all those hypocrites came to him, presented false excuses, took 
false oaths and tried to please the Holy Prophet All who en¬ 

trusted the inward state of their hearts with Allah and simply accept¬ 
ed their outward declarations on oath. Thus, they went on living their 
normal lives. Some people gave the same suggestion to these Ansari 
gentlemen - that they should also establish their innocence by offering 
false excuses. But, their hearts admonished them. They knew that 
they had already committed a sin, that of remaining behind in Jihad. 
Now, how could they compound it with another sin, that of lying before 
the Holy Prophet *J_c *lJl Therefore, they came up with a clean 
breast and confessed to their misconduct. In punishment, Muslims 
were asked not to greet or talk to them. In the end, the Holy Qur’an 
laid bare the reality of the whole thing. Those who had fortified their 
excuses with false oaths were exposed, the details of which appear in 
several earlier verses from: pZL>j\ \ (They will make excus¬ 
es to you - 94) to: «j£ll (upon those is the evil cycle - 98). Regard¬ 

ing the truth told and confession made by these three gentlemen, it is 
enough to say that the fact of their Taubah was revealed in this verse. 
They faced fifty days of avoidance by the Holy Prophet Jjl 

and a boycott of greeting and conversation by the Companions, a 
heart-rending experience indeed. Finally came the day when, amidst 
ecstatic scenes of having been so honorably acquitted and of exuberant 
congratulations for it, they regained the confidence of the Holy 
Prophet jJ-j <lJl£ Aji c/ L», and that of all Muslims. 

Details of the event relating to these three Am-iari elders from 
authentic Ahadith 

In the two authentic collections of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, and in 
most books of Hadith, there appears a lengthy Hadith narrated by 
Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Malik All in connection with this event. Since, 
it consists of many elements of guidance, solutions of religious prob¬ 
lems and facts worthy of consideration, therefore, it seemed appropri¬ 
ate that a full translation of this Hadith should be reproduced here. 
Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Malik All ^j, one of the three gentlemen, has de¬ 
scribed the details of this event as given below: 

‘Every battle in which the Holy Prophet ,A~.j aAc. All participated, I 
was with him, except the battle of Tabuk. However, the battle of Badr 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 :117 -119 


481 


came all of a sudden, and the Holy Prophet jJL, *Jic *1)1 JL> had also not 
asked everyone to participate in it, and was also not angry with those 
who had not participated in it. In this too, I was not present. And I 
was also present on the night of the Bai'atu al-‘Aqabah where we had 
made the covenant of supporting and protecting Islam. And this pres¬ 
ence of mine at the Bai'atu al-‘Aqabah is dearer to me as compared to 
my (possible) presence at the battle of Badr - though, the battle of 
Badr is better known among people. As for the background of my ab¬ 
sence from the battle of Tabuk, the truth is that I had never been so 
rich as I was at that time. By God, I never had two mounts before that 
which I then had. 

While marching out from Madinah for his battles, the blessed hab¬ 
it of the Holy Prophet *Jl t *1)1 JL* was that he would conceal his in¬ 
tentions by advancing in a direction just the opposite of the direction 
in which he was to go for Jihad. The intention was to confuse spying 
hypocrites lest they sound off the enemy. And he used to say, ‘in war, 
(such strategy of) deception ( khudah') is permissible.’ 

Then, the Holy Prophet ,jL.j *JU *1)1 was ready to carry out his 
plan for the Jihad (of Tabuk, which was unusual for several reasons). 
The heat was intense. Muslim forces were short on supplies. The jour¬ 
ney was long. Then, they were going to fight against an enemy strong¬ 
er in strength and overwhelming in numbers. Therefore, the Holy 
Prophet made the call for Jihad openly and publicly so 

that Muslims could make all necessary preparations for it in advance.’ 

According to the report in the Sahih of Muslim, the numerical 
strength of those who participated in this Jihad was more than ten 
thousand. Hakim reports from Sayyidna Mu'adh *jj. *1)1 who said, 
‘when we set out for this Jihad with the Holy Prophet ^ *Jic *1)1 our 
number was more than thirty thousand.’ 

‘Since no muster roll of those who set out for this Jihad was put on 
record in writing, therefore, those who did not wish to go out for this 
Jihad had an opportunity on hand. If they did not go, nobody would be 
able to find that out, they thought. The time when the Holy Prophet 
pU, *J* *1)1 set out for Jihad was a time when dates were ripe and the 
growers were busy. Such was the condition when the Holy Prophet 
,Jl,j*ju*1)I and common Muslims started getting ready for the journey. 
It was a Thursday when he set out for the journey. He liked to travel 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117.119 


482 


on a Thursday, whether it was for Jihad or for some other purpose. 

As for myself, I went out every morning to prepare for Jihad, but 
came back without having done it. My heart said, ‘I am capable of Ji¬ 
had. I must go.’ But, days passed and my intention kept being put off 
until a tomorrow - until the time the Holy Prophet pl—j *JLt and 

common Muslims departed for Jihad. Still then, my heart kept urging 
me to leave and join up somewhere en route - alas, only if I were to do 
that! But, unfortunately, this could not be done. 

When, after the departure of the Holy Prophet <u~U Jji ^U., 
wherever I went in Madinah, the surroundings put me to grief. At that 
time, what one saw throughout Madinah were sights of people who 
were either sunk in hypocrisy, or were sick and crippled absolutely 
unable to travel. On the other side, the Holy Prophet *Jlc *Itl did 
not think of me anywhere on this whole journey until he reached 
Tabuk. It was there in a gathering that he said, ‘what happened to 
Ka‘b ibn Malik?’ 

A man from (the tribe of) Banu Salimah said, ‘ ya rasulallah, he has 
been detained by his nice dress and his looking towards his shoulders 
(in self-admiration). Then, Sayyidna Mu'adh ibn Jabal jju. Jji told 
this man, ‘what you have said is bad’ - and then, turning to the Holy 
Prophet (Jl-j <lc. Jji he submitted - ‘ya rasulallah, by God, we know 
nothing about him except that which is good.’ Thereupon, the Holy 
Prophet pJLj *Jlc *1)1 became silent. 

When I heard the news, says Sayyidna Ka‘b Jjl that the Holy 
Prophet (JL,j Jjl was coming back, I was concerned, almost close 
to concocting in a hurry some excuse for my absence and presenting 
things through which I could have escaped facing the displeasure of 
the Holy Prophet jJ —j *Jlc J)l May be I could have asked my family 

and friends also to help me out of this predicament. (Scruples like 
these kept destabilizing my heart) until I heard that the Holy Prophet 
|j~.j <_U JUl had arrived. Then, all these confusing thoughts were blot¬ 
ted out of my heart and I realized that I could never escape his dis¬ 
pleasure on grounds that are contaminated with a lie. Therefore, I re¬ 
solved to tell him the truth for I was convinced that truth alone would 
rescue me (from this situation). 

The Holy Prophet jJuj *-lc. Jjl entered Madinah. The time was 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 -119 


483 


Duha (Chasht in Urdu and Persian), that is, middle of morning after 
sunrise. It was the blessed habit of the Holy Prophet ,JLj -JLt J)l that 
he generally used to return from his journeys at this time and his 
practice was first to go to the Masjid, offer two raka‘at and then go to 
see Sayyidah Fatimah. After that, he went to meet his blessed wives. 

This time too, as was his wont, he first went to the Masjid, offered 
two rakaat and sat down in the Masjid. Some more than eighty hypo¬ 
crites who had not gone to the expedition of Tabuk came to him offer¬ 
ing false excuses on equally false oaths. The Holy Prophet *lJl 

accepted what was outwardly expressed through their statements on 
oath, approved of their allegiance, prayed for their forgiveness and en¬ 
trusted what was in their hearts with Allah. 

It was under this situation that I presented myself before him. 
When I offered my salam to him, he smiled, smiling like someone an¬ 
gry. Then he said, ‘come.’ So I walked towards him until I sat down be¬ 
fore him.’ According to some Hadith reports, the Holy Prophet -dll 
|J__, -uJU turned his face away from him. Thereupon, Sayyidna Ka‘b ^j 
-U6 dl said: Ya rasulallah, why would you turn your face away from me? 
By God, I have nothing to do with hypocrisy, nor have I ever suffered 
from any doubt about my religion, nor am I guilty of making any alter¬ 
ations to it. ‘Then he said, ‘why then, did you not go for Jihad? Is it not 
that you had already bought a mount for this purpose? 

I said, ‘Yes, Ya rasulallah. If I would have been sitting before any¬ 
one from common worldly people, other than you, I am confident that I 
would have invented some excuse and avoided his displeasure - be¬ 
cause, I have been gifted with the art of debate. But, I swear by Allah 
that I have understood perfectly well that, should I tell you a lie - that 
may even please you temporarily - still, the day would not be far when 
Allah Ta‘ala would tell you the whole truth and thus make you dis¬ 
pleased with me. And if I were to tell you the truth - which may at 
this moment make you displeased with me - I hope, Allah Ta'ala will 
forgive me. The truth of the matter is that I had no excuse for remain¬ 
ing absent from the Jihad for I had never been stronger, both finan¬ 
cially and physically, as I was at that time. 

The Holy Prophet jJL, <uic -111 said, ‘this man has told the truth.’ 
Then, he said, ‘all right, go - until Allah Ta'ala gives His decree in 
your case.’ I rose to leave when some men from the tribe of Bani 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 - 119 


484 


Salimah tailed me and started saying, ‘As far as we know, you never 
committed a sin before this. Why did you act so dumb? You could have 
at the least come up with some excuse as was done by others who were 
left behind. Had you done that, the prayer made by the Holy Prophet 
jJL-j -lJlc *1)1 would have been sufficient to bring forgiveness for your 
sins. By God, these people kept admonishing me repeatedly, so much 
so that a thought crossed my mind urging me to go back and say that I 
was wrong about what I had said earlier and that I had the right 
excuse with me. 

But, it occurred to me that I should not add another sin to the one I 
have done before. I have already committed a sin when I remained 
behind in the Jihad. How could I venture into another sin, that of 
lying? Then, I asked those people if there was anyone like me who had 
confessed to his misconduct. They told me that there were two others 
who had done what I did and they too were given the same reply as 
was given to me (that they should wait for the decree of Allah). I asked 
them as to who those two were. They told me that one of them was 
Murarah ibn Rabi‘ al-“Umariy while the other, Hilal ibn Umayyah 
al-Waqifiy.’ 

According to a report carried by Ibn Abi Hatim, the reason why the 
first of the two (that is, Murarah) was left behind is that he had a date 
farm where the fruit was ripening. He said to himself, ‘you have taken 
part in many battles before this. If you do not go for Jihad this year, 
how would that become a crime?' Later, when he was alerted to his 
sinful thought, he promised to Allah that he has given this date farm 
in the way of Allah as a sadaqah from him. 

As for the other gentleman, Sayyidna Hilal ibn ‘Umayyah *±c. JLii ^j , 
his family has been living scattered since long. At that time, they had 
assembled all together. He thought of not going to Jihad that year and 
spending some time with his family. He too, when reminded of his sin, 
promised that he would stay away from his family from that time on¬ 
wards. 

Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Malik Alt ^j says, ‘these people mentioned 
two blessed souls who were from among the mujahidin of the battle of 
Badr. I said, ‘that is it. What these two did is worth following for me.’ 
Saying this, I went home. 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 - 119 


485 


On the other side, the Holy Prophet j-J* Jji prohibited his 
Companions from greeting or talking to the three of us. As for us, we 
loved all Muslims as usual, but they were the ones who had turned 
away from us.’ 

It appears in a report of Ibn Abi Shaibah that ‘now we were in a 
condition that we would go to people, but they would not talk to us, 
nor greet us, nor respond to our greetings.’ 

Musnad ‘Abd al-Razzaq reports the statement of Sayyidna Ka‘b 
ibn Malik jllc Jji ^as follows: ‘what a time that was when the small 
world around us had changed totally. It seemed as if the people who 
used to be there are not there any more, nor our fruit farms, nor our 
homes, none of these were what they used to be. Everything looked 
strange. I became seriously concerned about myself. If I die in this 
state of mine, I thought, the Holy Prophet ^JL, <Ac. Jji would not say 
the Salah of Janazah (funeral prayer) for me. Or, if the Holy Prophet 
jJLj *Jlc Jji were to breath his last during this period, I shall be run¬ 
ning around just like this all my life, condemned and disgraced before 
everyone. For this reason, as far as I was concerned, the whole Earth 
started appearing indifferent and desolate. So, we lived like that for 
fifty nights. At that time, the two companions of mine (Murarah and 
Hilal) lost heart, sat home and wept. But, I was younger. I went out, 
walked around and made my Salah in the Masjid with other Muslims 
and roamed in the bazaars but nobody would talk to me nor respond to 
my sal am greetings. I used to attend the customary sitting of the Holy 
Prophet *Juc JJI < _^L» after the Salah was over. When I said my salam to 
him, I tried to figure out whether or not the blessed lips of the Holy 
Prophet moved to respond to my salam. Then I tried to offer my Salah 
just about close to him from where I would steal a glance towards him 
and discover that he looks at me when I get busy with my Salah, and 
when I look towards him, he turns his face away. 

When this (considered) indifference of these people dragged longer, 

I went to my cousin Abu Qatadah who was the dearest of my friends. I 
jumped a wall to enter his farm and said my salam to him. By God, he 
too did not respond to my salam. I asked, ‘O Abu Qatadah, do you not 
know that I love Allah Ta‘ala and His rasulT Even then, Abu Qatadah 
observed silence. He did not respond. When I repeated my question 
again and again, then - probably, the third or the fourth time - he 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 ; 117 - 119 


486 


only said, ‘Allah and His rasul know best.’ I broke into tears and came 
out of the farm jumping over the compound wall as I had done earlier. 
During those days, once I was walking through a bazaar of Madinah 
when, all of a sudden, I noticed a farmer from Syria who had come to 
Madinah to sell grains. I saw him asking people if anyone there could 
tell him the address of Ka‘b ibn Malik? When they saw me right there, 
they pointed out to me. The man came to me and gave me a letter from 
the king of Ghassan that was written on a silk handkerchief. It said: 

‘ After salutations, I have come to know that your Prophet has 
betrayed you and that he has made you stay away from him. 

(I assure you) God has not chosen to put you in a place of dis¬ 
grace and destruction. If you like to come to us, come. We 
shall help you.’ 

When I read this letter, I said to myself, ‘here comes another test 
and trial for me when, of all the people, the partisans of disbelief ( kufr) 
have now been tempted to expect such things from me (that I go and 
join them)!’ Taking this letter in my hands, I stepped forward. There 
was a bread-baking shop with a heated oven. I threw the letter down 
into it. 

Sayyidna Ka‘b a* Jjl ^ says, ‘when forty out of the fifty nights had 
passed, I was given a surprise by Khuzaymah ibn Thabit a* *1)1 a 
message bearer of the Holy Prophet who came towards 

me and said, ‘the Holy Prophet pJL-j alt *1)1 Jo* has ordered that you 
should stay apart from your wife as well.’ I said, ‘should I divorce her? 
Or, do what?’ He told me, ‘no, just do not go near her.’ The same order 
was communicated to my two companions also. I told my wife, ‘go to 
the home of your parents and stay there till Allah Ta‘ala opens a way 
for us.’ 

After having heard this order, Khawlah bint ‘Asim, the wife of Hi- 
lal ibn Umayyah came to the Holy Prophet ,Jl.j alt Jji with the plea 
that Hilal ibn Umayyah was old and weak and that he had no servant 
to look after him. It also appears in a report of Ibn Abi Shaybah that 
she also said, ‘he is weak-sighted as well. Would you not like to allow 
me to continue serving him?’ He said, ‘serving him is no problem, how¬ 
ever, he should not seek to be near you.’ She said, ‘as for that, He is in 
to a state wherein he has no such desire - and, by God, he keeps weep¬ 
ing day and night.’ 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117-119 


487 


Ka‘b ibn Malik says, ‘some of my relatives and friends suggested to 
me too that I should also ask the Holy Prophet jjLy *Ju JL)l JU to allow 
me to keep my wife with me - similar to the permission he has given 
to Hilal. I said, ‘I will not do that. Who knows what the Holy Prophet 
,jLj U-c *JUi JL* would say in reply? In addition to that, I am young (that 
is, living with one’s wife was against precaution).’ In this condition, I 
passed ten more nights until the count of fifty nights became com¬ 
plete.’ The narrative of Musnad ‘Abd al-Razzaq says, ‘At that stage, 
the Divine decree about our Taubah (repentance) was revealed to the 
Holy Prophet JLj -Jit Jji at the hour when one third of the night had 
passed. The Mother of the Faithful, Sayyidah Umm Salamah who was 
there at that time said, ‘If you wish, Ka‘b ibn Malik can be informed 
about it right now.’ He said, ‘That will bring a crowd of people here 
right now. It would become impossible to sleep for the rest of the 
night.’ 

Ka‘b ibn Malik says, ‘when the fiftieth night passed, I made my 
Fajr Salah and went to the roof. While I sat there my condition was a 
mirror of what Allah Ta'ala has said in the Qur’an - that the Earth 
was straitened for me despite all its vastness, and my own soul was 
straitened for me. (118) All of a sudden came the voice of a caller calling 
from the heights of the hill of Sal‘ loudly announcing: ‘O Ka‘b ibn Ma¬ 
lik, 'Be happy with the good news’. 

In a report from Muhammad ibn ‘Amr, it is said that the caller was 
Sayyidna Abu Bakr ^ JL)l who went up the hill of Sal‘ to announce 
that Allah Ta‘ala had accepted the Taubah of Ka‘b and offered congrat¬ 
ulations for his success. And narration of ‘Uqbah says that two men 
ran to give this good news to Sayyidna Ka‘b Jji When one ran 
ahead of the other, the one who had remained behind turned, climbed 
the hill of Sal‘, and announced the good news from there. It is said that 
the blessed souls who ran in that manner were Sayyidna Abu Bakr 
and Sayyidna ‘Umar JJI ^j . 

Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Malik ju*. Jji says, ‘Hearing this voice, I fell 
down prostrating in Sajdah. So happy was I that I broke into tears. I 
had learnt that my good days have come back. The Holy Prophet Jji JL* 

<Ac. had told the Sahabah after the Salah of Fajr that our Taubah 
was accepted. Everyone ran out to congratulate the three of us. Some 
of them rode on horses to reach me. But, the voice of the person calling 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 - 119 


488 


from the hill was quicker than the horse. 

When I came out to present myself before the Holy Prophet , I 
saw that the Holy Prophet was sitting there. There was a cordon of 
his Sahabah around him. When Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah saw me, he 
was the first to rise and rush towards me. Shaking my hands, he con¬ 
gratulated me for the acceptance of my Taubah. I cannot forget the 
good Talhah did to me on that day. When I said my sal am to the Holy 
Prophet his blessed face was radiant with delight. He said, ‘O Ka‘b, 

I congratulate you for this day of bliss for you, the best day of your life 
since you were born.’ I said, ‘Ya rasulallah, is this order from you or is 
it from Allah Ta‘ala?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘this order is from Allah Ta'ala. You 
had told the truth. Allah Ta'ala made your truthfulness come out in 
the open.’ 

When I sat down before the Holy Prophet Jfe, I said to him, ‘Ya ras¬ 
ulallah, I wish to walk out of all my wealth and property and give it as 
sadaqah in the way of Allah. This will be a part of my Taubah.’ ‘No,’ he 
said, ‘hold some of it for your needs. This is better.’ I said, ‘all right, 
can I give half of it as sadaqah ?’ He rejected that too. Then, I asked his 
permission to give one-third of it. This he accepted. I said, ‘Ya rasulal¬ 
lah, I have been delivered from my predicament by Allah because I 
told the truth, therefore, I pledge before you that, as long as I live, I 
shall not say anything but the truth.’ Then, says Sayyidna Ka‘b *1)1 
i^s., ‘since the time I had given this pledge to the Holy Prophet al- 
hamdulillah, no word of lie was uttered by me up to this day — and I 
hope Allah Ta‘ala shall protect me from it for the rest of my life.’ Sayy¬ 
idna Ka‘b ^ *1)1 also says, ‘By God, after the blessing of Islam, I can¬ 
not think of having received a blessing greater than this. I mean that I 
told the truth before the Holy Prophet & and that I did not lie - be¬ 
cause, had I lied, I would have been ruined like those who took false 
oaths. About them the Qur’an said: 1 \l[ *1)^ojil* (They will 

swear by Allah before you, so that you may ignore their misdeeds - 95) 
up to <^Jui fjili $U (Allah will not be pleased with the sinning 

people - 96). 

It has been said that the continuation of the boycott of these three 
gentlemen was, perhaps, based on the wisdom that the Holy Prophet 

had spent exactly fifty days during the expedition of Tabuk. (The en- 
tire narration of this Hadith and the related event has been taken from Tafsir Mazhari) 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117 - 119 


489 


Points of Guidance from the Hadith of Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Malik 

The clarity and detail with which Sayyidna Ka‘b Jjl has de¬ 
scribed his story contains many elements of guidance for Muslims. 
Therefore, this Hadith has been presented here in full. These are as 
follows: 

1 . This Hadith tells us that it was the customary practice of the 

Holy Prophet -lJl* JL)I in his usual battle plans that he would 
march out of Madinah in a (feigned) direction that was opposite to the 
direction he was to go actually. The objective was to keep enemies of 
Islam in the dark about where to and against whom he was going to 
carry out his Jihad. This is what he defined as: (al-harbu 

khudaah) that is, ‘in war, deception is permissible.’ Some people fall in 
doubt about the drift of this statement. They think that deceiving the 
adversary by lying in war or Jihad is permissible. This is not correct. 
In fact, it means the kind of deception whereby one acts in a manner 
that succeeds in deceiving enemies. For instance, marching out for Ji¬ 
had from the opposite direction does not mean deceiving by lying 
blandly - something not permissible even in war. Similarly, it should 
also be understood that this practical deception, which has been de¬ 
clared permissible, has no bearing on abiding by a pledge or treaty. 
Breaking of a pledge or treaty, whether in peace or war, is not permis¬ 
sible under any situation. 

2 . For his journeys, the Holy Prophet *j_t Jjl liked a Thurs¬ 
day, whether it was for Jihad or for some other purpose. 

3. Telling a lie to please some elder or spiritual guide or teacher or 
father is neither permissible nor does it end well. As for the Holy 
Prophet jJl-j <lJu. All he was informed of the truth through revelation, 
therefore, the ultimate outcome of lying was evil - as clarified through 
the event relating to Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Malik ^ JJI and to others 
who remained behind. After the Holy Prophet jjL-y <lJU *1ji no saint or 
savant or pious elder or spiritual guide can claim to be a recipient of 
revelation. Then, getting to know things through inspiration ( ilham ) 
and illumination ( kashf) is not necessary either. But, experience shows 
that lying has an aura of evil about it, something that brings bad con¬ 
sequences in its wake. Causes converge naturally, so much so that this 
respected elder ultimately becomes displeased with the liar. 

4. From this event we learn that the Amir (the executive head) of 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 117.119 


490 


Muslims also has the right to order them to stop greeting and talking 
to someone as a punishment for some sinful misconduct of his - as it 
happened with these three gentlemen in the event concerned. 

5. This event is a mirror of the love his Companions had for the 
Holy Prophet jJL, *jl* JL)l JL*. The depth and extent of this love compelled 
them to continue staying in his company even during the days when 
he was displeased with them and they were subjected to a social boy¬ 
cott by the Companions who would neither greet, nor acknowledge 
greetings nor talk to them. A careful reader through the narration of 
the event would hardly miss their affection and concern for him partic¬ 
ularly when they would look at their master with the corners of their 
eyes and try to assess the warmth of his attention and the emotional 
level of the bond between them. They were really tuned to him under 
all circumstances. 

6 . As for the attitude of Sayyidna Abu Qatadah JLll cousin 
and friend of Sayyidna Ka‘b JLll who did not respond to the lat¬ 
er’s sal am nor talked to him, it is fairly obvious that he did not do so 
because of some enmity, hostility or malice. In fact, this was done for 
the sole reason that the Holy Prophet ,jLj *J_t Jjl had ordered him to 
do so and that he was duty-bound to follow it. This tells us that the 
law given by the Holy Prophet ,j_j *JU Jjl was not only enforced on 
the physical exterior of people but was also implemented inwardly as 
well. The law ruled over their hearts. They would not do anything 
against it under any condition, present or absent - even if they had to 
act against the dearest of their friends and relatives. 

7. The episode relating to the king of the Ghassan who wrote a let¬ 
ter to Sayyidna Ka‘b ^ JLll who threw it down into a heated oven 
shows how staunch as believers the Sahabah were. Here is one of 
them, terribly nervous about the displeasure of the Holy Prophet Jjl Ju* 
JL, and the boycott by fellow Muslims, yet the tempting offer made 
by a King fails to move his heart in that direction. 

8 . That Sayyidna Abu Bakr and Sayyidna ‘Umar and other noble 
Companions ,>^**>1 JLl ran to congratulate Sayyidna Ka‘b ibn Ma¬ 
lik au. J)l as soon as they heard about the acceptance of his Taubah 
is significant. Let us keep in mind that they had avoided the social 
graces of greeting and talking before this happened. This shows that 
the love for Sayyidna Ka‘b ^ *1)1 was very much present in their 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 120 -121 


491 


hearts even during the days of the boycott - though, they had to sur¬ 
render it in favor of carrying out the command of the Holy Prophet JL» 
,JLj <i_U Jjl. When the ’Ayah of Taubah (the verse of repentance) was re¬ 
vealed, their deep mutual affection became manifest. 

9. From the conduct of the noble Sahabah who went to disclose the 
good news to and congratulate Sayyidna Ka‘b as. All we learn that 
congratulating friends on a happy occasion has its basis in Sunnah. 


10. When repenting from a sin, taking out a sadaqah from one’s as¬ 
sets helps to do away with the effects of sin, but it is not good to give 
away the whole of it in charity. Giving more than one third of what 
one owns in sadaqah was not liked by the Holy Prophet *Ac. AI 


Advice to Muslims: Observe Taqwa and be with those true in 
word and deed 


This brings us to the last verse: £5 ijiTl ijStf (O 




those who believe, fear Allah, and be in the company of the truthful - 
119). The event of having remained behind as related to some other¬ 
wise sincere people, and the ultimate acceptance of their repentance, 
was all a result of their Taqwa, the fear of Allah and the sense of being 
responsible before him. Therefore, in this verse, the large masses of 
Muslims have been instructed to observe Taqwa (as a constant feature 
of their personal lives). Then, by saying: 54i.xAl 1 *' (be in the compa¬ 
ny of the truthful), it was hinted that the only way to achieve Taqwa 
was to frequent the company of those who are good in their deeds and 
true in their words, and to approximate one’s own conduct to theirs. 
Perhaps, this may also be pointing out to the slip made by these people 
that was caused by the company they kept with hypocrites and their 
suggestions and advises they listened to. One should stay away from 
the company of those who are disobedient to Allah, and take to the 
company of the truthful. The Qur’an has not said ‘the learned’ (‘ ulama ’) 
or ‘the righteous’ ( sulaha ’) at this place. Rather, by electing to use the 
word: ^juJI ( as-sadiqin : the truthful), it has also told us about the real 
identity of the 'learned' and the 'righteous'. Such a truthful person has 
to be the one whose exterior and the interior are the same and who is 
also true in intention, and true in word, and true in deed as well. 


Verses 120 - 121 






Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


492 


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It was not for the people of Madinah and for those 
around them of the Bedouins to stay behind abandon¬ 
ing the Messenger of Allah, nor to prefer their own 
lives to his life. That is because whatever thirst or fa¬ 
tigue or hunger strikes them in the way of Allah, and 
whenever they step into a place which infuriates the 
infidels, and whenever they make a gain from an ene¬ 
my, a virtuous deed is credited to their account. Sure¬ 
ly, Allah does not destroy the reward of the virtuous. 

[ 120 ] And whatever they spend, be it less or more, and 
whenever they cross a valley, is all written down for 
them, so that Allah may give them the best reward for 
what they used to do. [ 121 ] 

Commentary 

The two verses cited above admonish those who missed to join the 
expedition of Tabuk for no valid reason. They have also been told that 
they did what was not proper. Then the verses describe the merits of 
people who take part in Jihad and tell us about the great rewards they 
get for everything they do there. Included here is the causing of hurt 
or loss to the enemy and the using of a strategy that infuriates the ad¬ 
versary. All these are good deeds, and worthy of thawab (reward from 
Allah). 


Verse 122 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


493 



And it is not for the believers to go forth all together. 

So, why should it not be that a group from every sec¬ 
tion of them goes forth, so that they may acquire per¬ 
fect understanding of the Faith, and so that they may 
warn their people when they return to them, that they 
may be cautious. [122] 

Commentary 

It will be realized that the expedition of Tabuk has continued ap¬ 
pearing as an important subject in Surah Al-Taubah. For this battle, a 
general call of Jihad was given asking all Muslims to participate in it. 
It was not permissible to contravene the order without a valid excuse. 
Those who did that were mostly hypocrites who have been mentioned 
in several verses appearing earlier. Then, some sincere Muslims had 
also remained behind due to their incidental laziness. Their repen¬ 
tance was accepted by Allah Ta‘ala. Obviously, from all these events it 
can be gathered that the going forth of all Muslims in every Jihad is 
fard (obligatory) and staying behind is haram (unlawful) - although, 
this is not the religious law. In fact, Jihad during normal conditions is 
Fard al-Kifayah, a collective obligation. It means that, should a num¬ 
ber of Muslims sufficient for Jihad keeps engaged in Jihad, rest of the 
Muslims stand absolved of the obligation. However, if the number par¬ 
ticipating in Jihad turns out to be insufficient to the limits of being 
overpowered, it becomes obligatory on Muslims living nearby that they 
should come out to strengthen them and fight with them in the Jihad. 
If they too are not sufficient, the obligation falls on those near the lat¬ 
er, and if they too are not sufficient, it falls on Muslims adjoining the 
later. This could reach the limit when, under such emergent condi¬ 
tions, Jihad becomes Fard ‘Ain (absolute individual obligation) on 
Muslims of the whole world, and it will be haram (unlawful) to avoid 
participating in jihad. Similarly, it could also become equally obligato¬ 
ry (fard) if the Amir of Muslims, seeing the need, gives a general call 
and invites Muslims to join the mission of Jihad. At that time too, par¬ 
ticipation in Jihad becomes obligatory (fard) and staying behind be¬ 
comes haram (unlawful) - as it happened in the expedition of Tabuk 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


494 


due to the general call of Jihad given for it. The verse cited above clari¬ 
fies that this order to join the Jihad of Tabuk was a specific order due 
to the general call for it. Under normal conditions, Jihad is not an indi¬ 
vidual obligation (Fard al-‘Ain) that would require all Muslims to go 
forth in Jihad as a matter of obligation - because, like Jihad, there are 
other collective concerns and important undertakings of Islam and 
Muslims that are Fard al-Kifayah, also like Jihad. To fulfill these re¬ 
sponsibilities too, different groups of Muslims have to follow the prin¬ 
ciple of division of work. Therefore, all Muslims should not go forth in 
every Jihad. The submission here may,also help you understand the 
reality of Fard al-Kifayah. The, areas of work that are not individual, 
but collective in nature, and the responsibility of carrying these out 
falls on all Muslims, are areas that the Shari'ah of Islam has declared 
to be Fard al-Kifayah. The purpose is that everything keeps being tak¬ 
en care of in its respective area and that all collective duties continue 
to be fulfilled. Duties such as washing, shrouding, offering Salah of Ja- 
nazah and burying deceased Muslims, the making and maintaining of 
mosques, Jihad and the guarding of Islamic frontiers are all separate 
duties that are subject to the same rule of Fard al-Kifayah. In other 
words, the responsibility of fulfilling these obligations though falls on 
the Muslims of the whole world as a matter of principle but, should 
some of them were to do that satisfactorily enough, other Muslims also 
stand absolved of the obligation. An important area of work that falls 
within the imperatives of this Fard al-Kifayah is the religious educa¬ 
tion. That it is an obligation has been particularly mentioned in this 
verse by saying that this obligation should not be left out unattended 
even during the period of engagement in as important a duty as Jihad. 
The way in which it could be accomplished is that a smaller section 
from out of every large section sets forth for Jihad while the rest of 
people keep engaged in the pursuit of religious education. Then, those 
so educated should orient Muslims going on Jihad as well as teach and 
train others in their religion. 

The obligation of acquiring religious knowledge, and its 
etiquette 

Imam al-Qurtubi has said, ‘this verse is the root and foundation of 
religious knowledge (the ‘ilm, of din ) for its seeker.’ If looked at careful¬ 
ly, also given here is a brief curriculum ( nisab) of religious education, 
as well as the duties of the person (‘ alim ) who has qualified as one who 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


495 


has this knowledge. Therefore, this subject is being taken up in some 
details. 

The merits (fatfa’il) of acquiring religious knowledge 

Muslim scholars have written regular books on the merits of relig¬ 
ious knowledge, great rewards ( thawab ) it brings and aspects related 
with it. Some brief reports relevant to the occasion are being cited 
here. Tirmidhi reports from Sayyidna Abu al-Darda’ All ^j who nar¬ 
rated that he heard the Holy Prophet |JL,j Jjl saying, ‘whoever 
travels on a path for seeking knowledge (‘ilm of din), Allah Ta'ala will - 
in reward ( thawab ) for his effort - turn the orientation of his path to¬ 
wards Paradise.’ 

A series of Hadith narratives appearing in Tafsir al-Qurtubi report 
that the Holy Prophet ,JLj *1)1 said: 

1. ‘The angels of Allah spread out their wings for (welcoming) the 
seeker of knowledge;’ 

2. ‘Allah’s creatures in the heavens and the earth and fishes in the 
waters of the world pray for such seekers;’ 

3. ‘The superiority of the ‘Alim over the person who devotes to vol¬ 
untary acts of worship (nafl ‘ ibadat ) abundantly is like the superiority 
of the full moon over the rest of the stars;’ 

4. '‘Ulama’ are the inheritors of the blessed prophets;' 

5. ‘The blessed prophets leave no gold and silver as inheritance, 
but they do leave the legacy of knowledge. So, whoever inherits this 
legacy of knowledge has inherited great wealth.’ 

Darimi reports a Hadith in his Musnad which says: ‘Someone asked 
the Holy Prophet aJU Jji There were two men in Bani Isra’il. One 
was an ‘Alim who would offer his prayers and then get busy teaching 
people their religion. The other fasted during the day and stood for 
prayers during the night. Of the two, who is superior? He said, “That 
,‘Alim (man of religious knowledge) is superior to the ‘Abid (man of 
religious worship) as I am superior to a very common person from 
among you.” (Reported by Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in his book, Jami‘u 
Bayan al-Tlm, from Sayyidna Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri ^ JJl with 
relevant chain of narrators.) (QurtubI) 

And the Holy Prophet ^ *1)1 said, ‘a faqlh (expert Muslim 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


496 


jurist), when confronting Shaytan, is stronger than a thousand wor¬ 
shippers.’ (Tirmidhi from Ibn ‘Abbas - as in Mazhari). Then, the Holy Prophet 
jjLy dJIhas also said, ‘when a person dies, his deeds come to an 
end - except three, the thawab (reward) of which keeps reaching that 
person even after death. One: sadaqah jariyah (act of charity the bene¬ 
fits of which continue) such as masjid, building for religious education 
or institutions of public welfare. Two: Knowledge through which peo¬ 
ple continue to benefit even later on. (For example, a student of relig¬ 
ion became an ‘Alim who set in motion a chain of learning and teach¬ 
ing the knowledge of religion for future generations; or someone wrote 
a book from which people kept benefiting even after the author was 
gone). Three: Children who are good (in character and up-bringing) 
and who keep praying for parents and do things the reward ( thawab ) 
of which continues to reach them.’ (Qurtub!) 

Details of Individual and Collective Obligation in the Learning 
of Religion 

Backed by sound authority, Ibn ‘Adiyy and al-Baihaqi report from 
Sayyidna Anas jjs. *1)1 ^j that the Holy Prophet JLy *Jlc *1)1 Ju* said: ^Lji ilt" 
JJi (Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim). 

(Mazhari). It is all too obvious that the sense of dim (knowledge) - as in 
this Hadith, as well as in those quoted a little earlier - is nothing but 
the ‘ilm of din (the knowledge of religion). Granted that worldly arts 
and sciences may be necessary for one as a part of the material man¬ 
agement of life on this earth, but their merits are not the same as 
mentioned in the Ahadith appearing above. Then, the ‘ilm of din 
(knowledge of religion) is not some solitary area of knowledge. It is a 
comprehensive system composed of many sciences. Then, it is also ob¬ 
vious that every Muslim man and woman does not have the capacity 
to acquire full mastery over all these sciences. Therefore, when the Ha¬ 
dith speaks of ‘knowledge being obligatory on every Muslim,’ it means 
the particular part of the knowledge of religion without which one can 
neither fulfill his or her obligations, nor stay away from the haram 
(unlawful things) - being principles that are inseparably necessary for 
Iman and Islam. As for the rest of the sciences, we should keep in 
mind that there are many more details of explanations, elements of 
wisdom and issues culled from the Qur’an and Hadith alone, not to 
mention the great range of injunctions and laws deduced from these 
sources. These are things beyond the capacity and control of every 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


497 


Muslim, nor has this been made an individual obligation (Fard al-‘Ain) 
for each one of them. However, this is Fard al-Kifayah (collective obli¬ 
gation), and as such, it becomes the responsibility of the Islamic world 
as a whole. The presence of one ‘Alim, a genuine expert in all these sci¬ 
ences and religious laws in every city makes the rest of Muslims ab¬ 
solved of this obligation. If a city or township has not even one ‘Alim, it 
becomes obligatory on the people of the city or township that they 
should arrange to make someone from among themselves an ‘Alim. If 
that is also not possible, they should invite one from outside, keep him 
in their city so that they can know, understand and act according to 
the fatwa of this scholar, specially when the need is acute and the 
problems are delicate. Therefore, given below are details of Fard al- 
‘Ain and Fard al-Kifayah as they relate to the ‘ilm of din (knowledge of 
religion): 

Fard al-‘Ain: Individual Obligation 

It is obligatory on every Muslim, man and woman, to acquire the 
knowledge of: 

1. Islam’s correct and authentic ‘Aqa’id (beliefs). 

2. Rules of Taharah (purity) and Najasah (impurity). 

3. Salah (prayers), Sawm (fasting) and all ‘Ibadat made fard 
(obligatory) or wajib (necessary) by the Shari'ah. 

4. Things declared to be hararn (unlawful) or makruh 
(reprehensible or repugnant). 

5. The rulings and injunctions of Zakah (prescribed alms) on the 
part of one who owns property or wealth above the fixed nisab or 
threshold. 

6. The rulings and injunctions of Hajj on the part of one who has 
the capability of performing Hajj, for it is an individual obligation on 
him or her. 

7. The rulings and injunctions of sale and lease ( bai‘ and ijarah) on 
the part of one who has to buy and sell or run a business or industry or 
work on wages or salary, for it is his individual obligation to do that. 

8. The rulings and injunctions of nikah (marriage) when getting 
married - and of talaq (divorce) as well. 

In brief, there are things the Shari'ah of Islam has made obligatory 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


498 


or necessary on everyone. Acquiring the knowledge of the rules relat¬ 
ing to these is also obligatory on every Muslim, man and woman. 

Knowing about Spiritual Purification is also an Individual Ob¬ 
ligation (Fard al-‘Ain) 

Everyone knows that the knowledge of the imperatives relating to 
one's outward acts like Salah and Sawm is Fard al-‘Ain. However, Qadi 
Thanaullah Panipati, the author of Tafsir Mazhari has written under 
his commentary on this verse that it is also fard al-‘ain to acquire the 
knowledge of the imperatives and prohibition pertaining to one's inner 
acts and qualities. This kind of knowledge is usually called the science 
of Tasawwuf. Since these imperatives fall under the category of fard al- 
‘ain, their knowledge too is fard al-‘ain. 

But, the field of knowledge called Tasawwuf in our time has, be¬ 
come a potpourri of many fields of knowledge and insights, illumina¬ 
tions and sense experiences. What is meant by Fard al-‘Ain at this 
place is nothing but that part of it which deals with the obligatory in¬ 
junctions pertaining to one's inner acts and qualities. For instance, 
there is the matter of true, correct and authentic ‘Aqa’id (beliefs). 
These relate to man’s inward state. Or, take the case of spiritual vir¬ 
tues like sabr (patience), shukr (gratitude), tawakkul (trust), qana‘ah 
(satisfaction with the available) and similar others. These are obligato¬ 
ry ( fard) in a particular degree. Or take the case of spiritual vices like 
pride and arrogance, malice and rancor, miserliness and greed for the 
material and similar others. These are hararn (forbidden) on the au¬ 
thority of the Qur’an, and Sunnah. So, it is also obligatory (fard) on 
every Muslim, man and woman, that he and she must find out the re¬ 
ality behind these and learn the methods of acquiring virtues and 
avoiding what has been forbidden. (Irrespective of the claims made in 
the field of Tasawwuf or in its counter-Islamic versions of mysticism 
and its many derivations) the sole basis of Tasawwuf is no more than 
what is Fard ‘Ain (under Islamic Law). 

Fard al-Kifayah 

To comprehend why the Tim of Din (the full knowledge of religion) 
has been made Fard al-Kifayah, it will be useful to glance through 
what it entails. For your convenience, the integrated whole appears in 
three parts as follows: 

1. To understand the meanings and rulings of the entire Qur’an, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


499 


2. To understand all Ahadith and to master the ability to sift and 
recognize the trustworthy from the untrustworthy, 

3. To acquire a complete knowledge of all injunctions and rulings 
deduced from the Qur’an, and Sunnah and a full awareness of the 
views of the Sahabah, the Tabi‘in and the Mujtahid Imams, expressed 
by them orally or practically. 

Knowing all this is a monumental task which is not easy even after 
one devotes. Therefore, the Shari'ah of Islam has declared this field of 
knowledge to be Fard al-Kifayah, that is, if some people acquire all this 
knowledge to the extent of its need in community life, rest of Muslims 
shall stand absolved. 

The curriculum of the ‘Ilm of Din 

At this place, the Holy Qur’an has used one single word to tell us 
about the essence of the knowledge or science of religion, and its cur- 
riculum as well. If the text had chosen to say something like: £l)l ly&a 
(that is, so that they acquire the knowledge of religion), it would have 
obviously suited the occasion. But, at this place, the Holy Qur’an has 
bypassed the word: ^ (ta‘allum: learning) and elected to go by the 
word: ( tafaqquh\ understanding). This gives a clear indication that a 

simple reading of the 1 ilm of din is not enough. This is something many 
disbelievers, Jews and Christians also do. Then, Shaytan is supposed 
to have it all, more than anyone. The fact of the matter is that the ‘ ilm 
of din means ‘to create an understanding of religion.’ This is the exact 
translation of the word: ms ( tafaqquh ) in the verse. A derivation from: 
ui (fiqh ), which essentially means understanding and comprehension. 
At this point, it is worth noticing that the Holy Qur’an has not even 
said: £1)1 ( liyafqahud-din : so that they understand the religion) by 

employing the verb from the simple (bare, denuded) form. Instead, the 
Qur’an has said: ^.1)1 ^ IJ^II iQ iliyatafaqqahu fi ‘d-din\ so that they may 
acquire a perfect understanding of the Faith). Being from ‘bab al 
tafa“ul (Jjiir ^u), it has the added sense of exertion and striving in its 
pursuit. Thus, the drive of the meaning is that they should, while try¬ 
ing to create a perfect understanding of religion, acquire the maximum 
possible expertise through continuous striving, hard work and endu¬ 
rance. Then, it is also evident that the kind of understanding of relig¬ 
ion we are talking about does not materialize by finding out the prob¬ 
lems and solutions concerning purity, impurity, prayers, fasting, 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


500 


Zakah and Hajj. In fact, the understanding of religion means that one 
understands that he or she will have to account for every word, deed, 
movement and rest in the Hereafter, and that how should he or she 
live in this world (in view of that). The perfect understanding of relig¬ 
ion is really the name of this concern. Therefore, Imam Abu Hanifah 
defines fiqh (understanding) by saying, ‘that one understands every¬ 
thing the doing of which is necessary for him or her, and also under¬ 
stands everything abstaining from which is necessary for him or her.’ 
As for the current definition of ‘Ilmu ’1-Fiqh as a religious science that 
deals with its subsidiary problems and rulings, it is a later day termi¬ 
nology. The reality of Fiqh as it appears in Qur’an and Sunnah is no 
more than what the great Imam has stated: ‘a person who has read 
through all books of religion but did not acquire this understanding is 
not an ‘Alim in the terminology of Qur’an and Sunnah.’ So, the gist of 
the investigation made here tells us that, in the terminology of the 
Qur’an, the sense of acquiring the knowledge of religion is to acquire 
its understanding, regardless of sources employed in such acquisition. 
These may be books or the company of teachers. They all form part of 
the curriculum. 

The essential duty of an ‘Alim after he acquires the knowledge 
of Din 

This too the Holy Qur’an has put in one single sentence: Ijjili : 

“so that they may warn their people (against the disobedience of Al¬ 
lah).” At this place as well, it is worth attention that the sentence has 
identified ‘the warning of a people’ as a duty of the ‘Alim. The Arabic 
word: jljjl ( indhar ) is usually translated into English as warning in the 
sense of putting the fear of something into someone, though it still 
does not convey the ultimate sense in full. The truth of the matter is 
that such warning or putting the fear of what must be avoided can 
take many forms. For instance, one may warn against an enemy, thief, 
robber or some beast or poisonous creeper. Then, there is the kind of 
warning a father would give, out of his affection and concern for his 
children, against things that hurt, like the fire, poisonous insects and 
unhealthy food. This is based on love, and on the desire to protect 
which has a special tone and temper, totally different from the former. 
Indhar is the name of warning given in that manner and with that mo¬ 
tive. Therefore, prophets and messengers of Allah have been given the 
title of ( nadhir : warner) and this duty of warning people assigned to 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 122 


501 


the ‘Alim is really nothing but a part of the legacy left by prophets 
which, according to the binding authority of Hadith, the ‘Alim inherits. 

At this point, we may also wish to consider that the blessed proph¬ 
ets are known by two appellations: Bashir and Nadhir. You already 
know the meaning of nadhir (warner) from the preceding discussion. 
Bashir means one who gives basharah, that is, good news or glad tid¬ 
ings. It is a part of the mission of blessed prophets that they give glad 
tidings to those who act righteously. Though, at this place too, what 
has been mentioned is Indhar or warning explicitly, yet, other textual 
imperatives show that it is also the duty of an ‘Alim that he should 
give good news of rewards too for those who do good deeds. Now that 
the mention of indhar (warning) has been considered sufficient at this 
place has its reason. Actually, it indicates that man is charged with 
two things. One: that he elects to do what is beneficial for him in this 
world and in the world to come. Two: that he avoids doing things likely 
to bring harm to him. People of learning and people of wisdom both 
agree that the later of the two has the higher priority. In the terminol¬ 
ogy of Muslim jurists, this is known as ‘bringing benefit’ and ‘repelling 
harm’ and the latter has been given precedence to the former. In addi¬ 
tion to that, when harm is repelled, it serves the purpose of bringing 
benefit in its own way, because if someone abandons what is beneficial 
and necessary for him, it brings harm. Given this situation, whoever 
makes the effort to stay safe from the harmful effects of bad deeds will 
also make the effort to stay away from leaving off what one must do 
necessarily. 

From here we also learn the main reason why religious sermons 
and acts of da‘wah generally remain ineffective in our time. We have 
seen a glimpse of the cardinal etiquette of indhar or warning, as given 
above. Contemporary sermons and acts of da‘wah seem to miss the 
manners, something that would exude care, concern, attachment, mer¬ 
cy and the earnest wish to give out what is really good for the listen¬ 
ers, not only in words but through the style of address and the empa¬ 
thy of tone and diction as well. It would be wonderful if the addressee 
comes to believe that the things the speaker is saying do not aim at 
disgracing him or settling scores against him, in fact, this person is 
telling me what he thinks is good and beneficial for me just out of love. 
If the tabligh we do today or the da‘wah we carry to correct people who 


Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 123 -127 


502 


violate commandments of the Shari'ah were to adopt this pattern of 
behavior, it is absolutely certain that it will bring forth at least one 
immediate response: the addressees will not be apprehensive, irritat¬ 
ed, dogmatic or obstinate about our submission. They would not worry 
about confronting us. Everyone would, rather, become attuned to him¬ 
self and start sorting out his own doings and thinking about what was 
going to happen to him. And if this effort continues, the time is to 
come, sooner or later, when such a person will be even willing to ac¬ 
cept what had been presented before him. The second outcome of this 
attitude is that it will not, at least, generate mutual hatred and alter¬ 
cation, something which holds contemporary Muslims in its grips. 

✓ 

In the end, by saying: (that they may be cautious), it was 

also indicated that the duty of an ‘Alim was not simply limited to put¬ 
ting the fear of Allah’s punishment in the hearts of people. Instead, he 
also has to watch and assess the extent and measure of the effect gen¬ 
erated by his tabligh and dawah. May be it did not work the first time. 
If so, let him do it again and again, until he sees its result: with 

his own eyes, which means that his people have become cautious and 
have started staying away from sins. Allah knows best. 


Verses 123 - 127 






Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 123 - 127 


503 


O those who believe, fight those disbelievers who are 
near you, and let them find severity in you. And be sure 
that Allah is with the God-fearing. [123] 

And when a Surah is sent down, some of them say, 

“Who among you has been increased in faith by it?” As 
for those who believe, they have been increased in 
faith by it, and they are quite happy. [124] 

But those who have malady in their hearts are in¬ 
creased by it in impurity in addition to their own im¬ 
purity, and they die infidels. [125] 

Do they not see that they are put to trial every year 
once or twice, still they do not repent, nor do they take 
lesson? [126] 

And when a Surah is sent down, they look at each other 
(as if saying): "Is there someone watching you?" Then 
they slip off. Allah has turned their hearts, because 
they are a people who do not understand. [127] 

Commentary 

Previous verses carried inducement to Jihad. The first verse from 
the present ones (123) which opens with the words: \Jj\s L^Cf(0 

those who believe, fight those disbelievers who are near you) gives de¬ 
tails, for disbelievers are spread out all over the world and any con¬ 
frontation with them has to have some sort of functional sequence. The 
verse says that Jihad should first be waged against those of the disbe¬ 
lievers who were near. ‘Being near’ could be taken in terms of the 
place, that is, the disbelievers who live closer to home base should be 
fought against first. And it could also be understood in terms of rela¬ 
tionship, that is, those who are near in kinship, parentage and other 
social bonds should be given precedence. This is because Islamic Jihad 
is essentially carried out in their interest and for their well being, 
therefore, when it comes to care and concern, kinsfolk have precedence 
- similar to the command given to the Holy Prophet Jjl < _ r U«: jjsi / 

(And warn your near relatives against the punishment of 
Allah - 26:214). He carried out the command by assembling people from 
his family and conveyed to them the Word of Allah as revealed to him. 
The circle then became larger. Keeping the same principle of near and 
far, confronted first, as compared to others, were disbelievers who 
lived in the vicinity of Madinah, such as Banu Qurayzah, Banu Nadir 
and the people of Khaibar. After that came the fight against the rest 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 123 - 127 


504 


within the Arabian Peninsula. And after things were settled there, 
came the last command to fight the disbelievers of Byzantium that re¬ 
sulted in the expedition of Tabuk. 

In the second sentence of verse 123: ikfe j&ii IjUlJ (and let them find 
severity in you), the word: ikU (ghilzah ) means severity or toughness. 
The sense is that the disbelievers must be confronted in a manner that 
would not allow them to take their adversary to be weak. 

The sentence: (they have been increased in faith by it) in 

verse 124 tells us that the reciting the verses of the Qur’an, pondering 
over them, and acting in accordance with their dictates makes one ad¬ 
vance in faith. One feels changes for the better, the higher. When 
’Iman increases, so does its light and sweetness. Once in this blissful 
state, one starts seeing obedience to Allah and His Rasul as easy. 
Tbadah becomes inviting. One can feel the very taste of it. Sins pose no 
problems, for one starts hating sins by his own nature. They tempt no 
more. In fact, they irritate and vex. 

Sayyidna ‘Ali *ie -dll ^j has said, ‘when Tman enters the heart, it is 
like a radiant dot. As Iman increases, its radiance increases, until the 
whole heart becomes blissfully radiant. Similarly, disbelief and hypoc¬ 
risy start appearing on the heart first as a black dot. Then, with every 
increase in sin and disbelief, the dot keeps increasing in size until the 
whole heart turns black.’ (Mazharl). For this reason, the noble Compan¬ 
ions of the Holy Prophet **Lt dll used to tell each other, ‘let us sit 
together for a while and remind each other of things relating to our din 
and ’akhirah so that it increases our Tman.’ 

In verse 126: Ai (they are put to trial every year 

once or twice), hypocrites have been warned about their incorrigible 
hypocrisy and constant breach of trust which brought all sorts of trou¬ 
bles for them every year once or twice. They saw the defeat of their 
disbelieving accomplices, the kuffar of Makkah. Then, they had to face 
the disgrace brought upon them when their hypocrisy was exposed. So, 
there was no dearth of warning signals for them. Incidentally, the 
count of ‘once’ or ‘twice’ here does not signify the numbers one and two 
as such. In fact, the purpose is to stress that this chain of action and 
reaction keeps moving all the time yet they take no lesson from what 
happens to them. 



Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 128 -129 


505 


Verses 128 - 129 



Surely, there has come to you a Messenger from 
amongst you, hard on whom is your suffering, for the 
good of you he craves and for believers he is kind, mer¬ 
ciful. [128] 


So, if they turn away, say, “Enough for me is Allah. 
There is no god but He. In Him I have placed my trust, 
and He is the Lord of the Great Throne.” [129] 


Commentary 

These are the last verses of Surah Al-Taubah where it has been de¬ 
clared that the Holy Prophet jJLj *Jt *1)1 is very kind and merciful for 
the entire creation of Allah, particularly so for Muslims. Then, in the 
last verse, he has been told that he should observe patience and trust 
Allah even if there are people who do not come to believe despite all 
his efforts. 

That this theme appears at the end of Surah Al-Taubah happens to 
be very appropriate. It will be recalled that this Surah has been full of 
references to the declaration of withdrawal from the disbelievers, the 
ultimate severance of relationship with them and then fighting in Ji¬ 
had against them. This is, however, the last resort of the Call to Allah 
subject to the condition that the initial steps of Da‘wah (call) and Ta- 
bligh (communication of the Message) leave no hope of correction and 
betterment. But, the basic function of the prophets is to invite people 
to the way of Allah with love, affection, sympathy and an earnest de¬ 
sire for their well-being; if they have to face aversion from the people 
or have to suffer some hardships, they are supposed to leave it to Allah 
and place their trust in Him, for He is the Lord of the Great Throne. 
By saying the Rabb or Lord of the Great ‘Arsh, the purpose is to lay 
stress on the fact that He encompasses the entire creation. 

The last two verses, according to Sayyidna ‘Ubaiyy ibn Ka‘b *1)1 




Surah Al-Taubah : 9 : 128 -129 


506 


*ie, are the last verses of the Qur’an. After these no other verse was re¬ 
vealed and the Holy Prophet jJL, aJu. a1)I left the mortal world. This is 
also the statement of Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas us. *1]| . (Qurtub!) 

Great merits of these two verses appear in Hadith. Sayyidna Abu-d- 
Darda’ u* aL)I says, ‘One who recites these verses three times, morn¬ 
ing and evening, shall find that Allah Ta'ala makes things easy for 
him (Qurtub!)' Allah knows best. 


The Commentary 
On 


Surah Al-Taubah 


Ends here.